Workforce.com

Best Practices for Using Temporary Employees

You've got to make sure you don't blur the line between these temporary workers and your regular staff. Here are some ideas for staying on the safe side of that line.

September 18, 2003
The economy is starting to come back--maybe. You’ve started to plan forfuture projects--maybe. You’re thinking about bringing on new staff at somepoint--maybe. But in the meantime, the work still has to get done. And, likemany other companies around the country, you may be thinking about taking on “contingent”workers to help get it done.

It’s a good idea. However, you’ve got to make sure you don’t blur theline between these temporary workers and your regular staff. Here are some ideasfor staying on the safe side of that line:

1. Do not train your contingent workers. Ask their staffing agency (which,unless the worker is an independent contractor, should be their employer ofrecord) to handle training.

2. Do not negotiate the pay rate of your contingent workers. The agencyshould set pay, as well as handle all communication regarding raises for theworker.

3. Do not coach or counsel a contingent worker on his/her job performance.Instead, call the person’s agency and request that they do so, and tell themwhy it is necessary.

4. Do not negotiate a contingent worker’s vacations or personal time off. Direct the worker to his or her agency, which should then call you regardingcoverage prior to approval.

5. Do not routinely include contingent workers in your company’s employeefunctions. Where their attendance is necessary, ask the agency to pay areasonable fee to cover things like food. For “recognition” events, theagency should be present and offer any award, bonus, or recognition directly toits workers.

6. Do not allow contingent workers to utilize facilities intended foremployees, such as company gyms/spas/company stores, without specialcompany-wide rules regarding issues such as eligibility and dues. Check withyour legal department for advice. Disregard for this rule has caused strain between regularemployees and management.

7. Do not let managers issue company business cards, nameplates, or employeebadges to contingent workers without HR and legal approval. The items shouldclearly differentiate the status of the worker as contingent.

8. Do not let managers discuss harassment or discrimination issues withcontingent workers. As soon as managers become aware of such an issue, theyshould contact you and the agency representative for resolution.

9. Do not discuss job opportunities and the contingent worker’s suitabilityfor them directly. Instead, refer the worker to publicly available job postings.Should a “temp-to-hire” opportunity exist for the worker, contact the person’sagency with details and ask the agency to approach the worker.

10. Do not terminate a contingent worker directly. Contact the agency to doso.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

Workforce Online, October 2002 -- Register Now!