"The overhead that would be required ... would mean that we couldn't have focus groups in this state." - Vera Cooley, testifying on H.B. 1440 in the Washington state House Committee on Finance, February 18.
Independent marketing research professional Vera Cooley testified yesterday in defense of respondent incentives at a state legislative committee hearing.
Vera, an MRA member, responded to MRA's request for help and leaped at the chance to testify on February 18 before the Washington House Committee on Finance against the "Employee Fair Classification Act," H.B. 1440, legislation which would create the presumption that every respondent receiving an incentive for participating in survey, opinion and marketing research is an employee of the research company conducting the study.
Here is a video clip of Vera's testimony:
H.B. 1440 would have a detrimental impact on any research company or organization using incentives for respondents. Rather than the current practice in Washington and other states, the "employer" would have to rebut the presumption that every person receiving payment for services is an employee. This would impose massive administrative overhead, as well as costly payments into workers compensation and unemployment compensation funds on behalf of every respondent receiving an incentive for participating in a research study. Research companies in Washington would have to do all that until they are able to provide sufficient evidence to the Department of Labor and Industries that the respondents are independent contractors and not employees. Upon receiving such evidence, the State would then have to refund the money that was erroneously collected from the company or organization.
MRA contacted the members of the House Committee on Finance in advance of their February 18 meeting to request that they bottle up this legislation in their committee and not allow it to advance. Vera Cooley also shared a copy of our 1-page position paper on H.B. 1440 with the members of the Committee.
If the legislators seek to advance H.B. 1440, MRA has suggested an amendment to the bill to carve out research participants, similar to the language in the Research Fairness Act.
Any MRA members in Washington state willing to contact their state Repreentatives about H.B. 1440 should contact MRA Director of Government Affairs, Howard Fienberg.