Priority Personnel Blog

Temporary Assignment Limits and Concerns About Benefits Liability

February 15th, 2011

In the wake of historic employment litigation (e.g., Vizcaino v. Microsoft), some companies have adopted policies limiting assignment length for temporary and contract employees from staffing firms.  Why?  These employers view assignment limits as a way to protect themselves from the kind of “retro-benefits” claims Microsoft faced back in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, these assignment limit policies have downsides.  They can cause economic harm to on-time temporary or contract employees whose assignments are terminated prematurely, and they can disrupt your company’s business operations.  To better protect your organization, you should closely examine its staffing policies to ensure that such limits are truly necessary – and not based on misinformation.

If you have questions about co-employment law, as it relates to assignment limits and associated benefits, here is a great resource with the answers you need.  The American Staffing Association’s Staffing Smarts Intelligence Report:  Assignment Limits and Concerns About Benefits Liability, by Edward A. Lenz, Esq., General Counsel, reviews the basic principles of law that apply to employee benefits plans, and then describes steps employers can take to avoid retro-benefits exposure:

Create a plan that expressly excludes staffing firm employees. The report suggests template language (that your legal counsel should review)  you can use for the purpose of excluding staffing firm employees from participation in your Erisa plan.

Use employee waivers. In addition to amending benefits plans, you may be able to achieve additional protection through agreements in which the staffing firm’s employees expressly waive their right to the company’s benefits.

Allow the staffing firm to handle employment related functions for temporary and contract staff, such as:  recruiting, screening, determining wages, hiring, firing, assigning, resolving disputes, disciplining, etc.

Keep the lines between direct staff and contingent staff clear. The report includes several other steps (such as channeling social invitations through the staffing firm) you can take to avoid blurring the distinction between your core staff and temporary employees.

Make Co-Employment Work with Priority Personnel. Read our tips for successful co-employment, or contact Priority Personnel with your staffing questions.  Our goal is to help you use staffing to achieve more.

Use Temporary Staffing to Manage Your Workload

May 21st, 2010

Peaks and valleys in your workload can create big challenges for staffing. If you have too few people, you can end up with loads of stress, lots of mistakes, and a negative impact on your service and even your sales.

But if you over-staff, you end up wasting money on payroll and creating a drain on productivity.

So what can you do?

Click here for an article about planned staffing–you’ll discover a better way to even out the highs and lows in your workload, save money, and reduce employment risk.

How to Ensure Your Temporary Employees are Productive and Efficient

February 12th, 2010

When used strategically, temporary staffing can improve productivity, increase capacity to handle spikes in workload, and provide access to specialized skill sets – all without increasing your fixed expenses.

To help ensure your temporary staff is as efficient and productive as possible, be sure to follow these 5 key steps:

Step #1: Determine the type of person you need and define required skills.
Meet with managers and those who will be working with the temporary employee to determine which skills are ideal for the position you are trying to fill.  Examine top performers you already have on staff to determine what skills have made them successful.  And finally, work closely with your staffing agency and provide as much detail as possible.

Step #2: Work with an experienced staffing agency.
Find an agency that has experience in your industry.  Not only will an experienced staffing agency know where to look to find the right person, but they will also be able to help you determine things like an appropriate pay rate for a particular position.

Step #3: Provide a solid orientation and training program.
Include information such as working hours, breaks and lunch schedules, any safety regulations or company rules, and contact information for direct supervisors. You may also want to assign a core staff member or supervisor to help orient the temporary employee.  Also, find out what type of training and orientation your staffing agency can provide.  Good staffing agencies will offer guidance on how to best bring temporary employees up to speed so they can hit the ground running–and they may even conduct initial training and orientation for you.

Step #4: Communicate clearly and openly.
Make sure your temporary employees understand what’s expected from them.  Encourage employees to ask questions and make sure they know who to direct those questions to.

Step #5: Check in regularly.
Be sure to take a minute or two at several points throughout the first day to check in and gauge progress.  Set specific days/times you plan to check in throughout the week to answer any questions and monitor progress.

Bringing a temporary employee on board at your company can offer a host of benefits – as long as that employee is managed properly. And from our experience, hard-working and properly managed temporary employees often become leading candidates for full-time openings.

If you’re interested in hiring temporary employees or just want to learn more about how temporary employees can help your company, contact Priority Personnel today. As San Marcos’ leading staffing and temporary employment agency, we can deliver the flexible staff you need without increasing your permanent workforce.