Temporary Workers and Liability Issues

 Using temporary workers to fill vacancies in the workforce is often an appealing solution.  There were an estimated 1.9 million such workers (seasonally adjusted) at the end of 2009.  However, there are some potential concerns that should be kept in mind.

Temporary workers hired through staffing agencies are considered employed by both the agency and the company, although the agency pays the salary.  All of the discrimination and harassment laws which protect workers also apply to temporary personnel.  In addition, temporary workers may be entitled to the same benefits as other employees.  If a company hires a temporary worker directly, they should clearly define what benefits apply to temporary employees versus full-time employees.

Small employers (under 50 employees) should also keep in mind that temporary workers will increase their employee count, subjecting them to comply with other laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, which are imposed on companies with over 50 workers.

Finally, even though the staffing agency usually is responsible for workers’ compensation premiums for its workers, the company should still adequately train temporary personnel.  If they are injured, higher premiums for the agency will be passed along back to companies seeking temporary workers.

From Business Insurance, January 25, 2009 issue, pp. 1 and 20.