Every now and again, those of us associated with temporary workers, independent contractors and SOW projects come across really denigrating remarks against temporary staffing and wonder what could cause such vehement disapproval.
For qualified and skilled workers, temporary work is all about work-life balance. After all, they can be their own bosses and possibly earn more than what they could in a regular job. They could plan to take well-earned breaks between gigs. For the Gen Y’s, it’s also about adventure, exposure to new industries and travel to new workplaces.
So, what kind of temporary work raises the stink we keep getting hit with? We all have heard horror stories of young, undocumented (and illegal) immigrants who do not possess skills other than the ability to handle hard, physical labor. Many of them face communication difficulties caused by language problems. Most have crossed over international borders, unsolicited and unescorted – and live in the US in fear of being discovered and sent back to wherever they came from! They present the perfect opportunity for exploitation by middlemen who offer them work against minimum pay – out of which they pay charges to middlemen in the form of transport costs of about $8 per day. These workers are exposed to work conditions which are unsafe or downright dangerous. They are sometimes kept waiting at warehouses interminably for jobs which may or may not materialize – without being compensated for the wait itself.
Disreputable staffing companies, who use such middlemen, claim innocence when the workers are found to be without any papers or social security numbers. Such companies are the reason Massachusetts and Oregon felt the need to pass strict and stifling staffing laws.
Legitimate staffing companies operate on a very different basis. Many clients hire staffing agencies and Managed Services Providers to ensure that they are compliant with employment legislation, and that all workers are authorized to work in the U.S. They competently fulfill a genuine customer need by sourcing candidates with niche, in-demand skills, –enabling clients to meet sudden requirements for talent – without delay. By serving as the worker’s employer of record, they protect their clients from the various statutory obligations,, maintaining workers’ paperwork, conducting background checks and drug tests, following and implementing workplace safety laws, administering worker time management and payroll, and verifying appropriate independent contractor classification – to name a few.
According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), in 2012 the staffing industry generated $104.8 billion in sales from temporary and contract staffing. More than 17,000 staffing agencies have been in business for more than a year. Of those, very few fail to adhere to industry standards or comply with government regulations. This percentage is not unlike the number of disreputable firms in any industry. Tarring every staffing firm and temporary job with the same brush is a regrettable attitude which needs to be changed, especially as employers are recognizing the benefits of employing temporary workers, while the workers are equally happy to take up temporary assignments!
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