Stay Legal on Contingent Worker Interviews | DCR Workforce Blog

Stay Legal on Contingent Worker Interviews

Hiring contingents through a supplier poses a tricky challenge at the best of times to companies which are looking for specific skills in the candidate. Most companies try and include quality as a ‘must have’ requirement on their list of SLAs and metrics to staffing providers and track it diligently and link it to rewards and continuity in relationships on the one hand and incentives on the other. Because quality is an elusive affair at the best of times, the pressure on the suppliers to meet the required standards could become oppressive and some of them end up handing over the reins to the client during the interview.  Clients whose approach is hands-on and highly involved in the quality of their contingents pitch in and take part in the interview process. They may actually enjoy this opportunity or demand it themselves. Either way, such a move could create highly risky situations for the client on the legal front.

Savvy suppliers protect their customers by not sharing any information beyond the qualifications and skill-sets offered by the contingent. They submit candidate information using forms which do not disclose the name or personal details of the candidate to protect the client from any possible violation of requirements under common law. Only the careless ones allow the client to get involved directly in the interview process.

The client may be either unaware of this threat or may have been carried away by the need to ensure that the quality of the contingent worker meets the business strategy and needs. But, such involvement of clients in contingent worker interviews could result in the following risky outcomes for them:

  • Clients may not be quite aware of all the necessary safeguards to deliberately stay clear of any possible illegality in their interview questions.
  • Even if they are aware, they may still get into trouble on a contingent worker interview, rendering themselves liable for co-employment charges later on.

To conclusively establish the supplier as the common-law employer, the client needs to ensure that the recruitment interview is handled by the supplier and that they do not actively engage with any tasks as members of the interview panel and that they have no direct interaction with the candidate. All communication including the spelling out of the role requirements and the duration of time required to be on the job need to be communicated to the candidate by the supplier only.

So, it is definitely worth the while of any company to put in place the required guidelines to keep any recruiter from asking people for their age, marital status or religious leanings, country of origin and mother tongue among other things which may be matters of tremendous interest and curiosity for them at a personal level. Indulging in such banter under the guise of testing the candidate’s creativity is also not looked upon as an acceptable practice.

Studies and internet posts of candidates have unequivocally shown that many hiring managers ask personal questions which may or may not be offensive but are definitely not within the boundaries of what is considered legal in the context of an interview. Such behavior on an interview could not only offend the candidates but also make them decide not to throw their lot in with that company.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.