Many organizations rely on seasonal employees in particularly busy times. These employees are hired for a set period of time or project. Organizations hire temporary employees directly or through a staffing agency. Organizations hiring temporary employees directly should ensure:
• Advertisements clearly identify the position as temporary
• Interviews remind candidates that the position is temporary
• Offer letters, agreements, or other documents used specify the term
of the temporary assignment
• Temporary employees are not treated as or grouped with
• Voluntary benefit plans and policies such as insurances and paid time
off are carefully drafted to exclude temporary employees
• Temporary employees do not receive the employee handbook, but are
trained in applicable policies like anti-discrimination and harassment
Organizations hiring staffing agencies to supply temporary employees should use an experienced firm with a good reputation. The staffing agreement should clearly outline each party’s responsibilities and liabilities. Organizations should also ensure that the staffing agency:
• Makes clear that the temporary worker is its employee, not yours
• Handles payroll, taxes, and benefits
• Handles HR responsibilities including investigating misconduct, disciplining, terminating, and reassigning workers
• Provides workers’ compensation insurance
Organizations are not absolved of employment law issues because workers are temporary. Temporary employees have the same legal protections as regular employees. Laws may even require organizations employing temporary employees for long periods of time to allow them to participate in pension plans and to take family and medical leave. Using an agency also does not avoid potential liability. A joint employment relationship may exist where both the staffing agency and the client are responsible for ensuring legal compliance and have the potential of being sued. And, some laws require client organizations to count temporary workers as employees to determine coverage.
Hiring temporary workers is not advised in long-term or prolonged situations. If what appeared to be a short-term need becomes something more permanent, you likely need to hire regular employees.
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