September 17, 2018
Filling certain positions with temporary workers rather than regular full-time employees sometimes makes sense for a business. But you have to make the decision wisely and comply with federal regulations classifying employees and differentiating them from temporary workers. If you don’t, you may find yourself in court as many other companies have in the past few years, when they were sued by long-term temporaries working for them.
Realize the Benefits
The major problems in these cases stemmed from employers using temporary workers for extended lengths of time. Temps were working side-by-side with regular employees yet not being provided the benefits (such as health care coverage, retirement programs and paid vacation time) offered to regular, full-time employees.
Of course, not all temporary workers fall into this situation. There are plenty of instances where companies hire temps for a defined period of time to appropriately and legally supplement their work force. For example, a business branching out into a new market might bring in an expert to get the new department running or a temp may handle work stacking up while you search for a regular, full-time placement.
One advantage to properly using temps is the impact on your bottom line: You can save money on labor, benefits and administrative expenses. Another plus is greater flexibility with your work force — for example, you can handle seasonal business more easily without incurring layoffs.
Be Aware of the Laws
If you treat temps just like other regular employees you can put your company at risk for lawsuits based on misclassification.
You can protect your organization by limiting the tenure of temp employees. Also, choose your words carefully: Temps are “workers” — not “employees” — who have been “assigned” — not “hired.” Also, review any temporary employment arrangements with a knowledgeable HR consultant or lawyer who is familiar with applicable federal and state laws.
Find the Right Fit
Another equally important aspect of the decision-making process is your company strategy. Employee loyalty, project time frames, customer interaction, succession planning and other factors should play into the choice between a temporary worker and regular employee.
To help you gauge which type is more appropriate for a position, answer these four questions:
- Is the position seasonal or does it have a defined time frame or an uncertain future? In these situations, a temporary worker probably better fits the bill.
- How strategic and central is this job to your mission? The more important the role is to the core of your business, the more important it is to fill it with someone with loyalty to the company and a deep stake in its success. You’re more likely to get this with a regular, full-time employee than with a temp.
- What level of involvement does this role have with customers? If customer interaction is an ongoing and large part of the job, a regular employee can offer more continuity. If customer contact is sporadic, this factor may be less important to your decision.
- Is the role a stepping stone to a higher-level position? If it is, filling it with a temp will stymie your succession planning and could be demoralizing to staffers who hope to step into that role or the one above it.
Look at the Reasons
To determine whether temporary workers are a good fit for your company, examine your motivation for considering them. If you don’t, you may inadvertently open your company to the risk of complaint that temps should be regular employees — and that is where the trouble can begin.