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How To Engage Your Contingent Workers While Keeping In Line With Employment Law recently wrote an interesting article about the need for organizations to engage their contingent workers just as they do their full-time employees so as to attract the highest quality contract talent and to get the best out of them for the duration of their project.

This approach makes a lot of sense, seeing as companies are relying more and more on contract talent to deliver key business objectives –in fact, almost a third of the U.S. workforce is made up of temporary and project-based workers. Also, a good proportion of these contingent workers are professional, highly-skilled workers who often work on long term projects at their clients’ offices. Naturally, the inclination is to want to embrace them into the team and to let them know their work is appreciated. 

However, much as clients may wish to welcome their contingents into their corporate family and to make them feel valued, companies must make a clear distinction between their permanent and contingent staff or face the very real possibility of costly and time consuming litigation. 

To HR, there is an obvious demarcation between contingent workers and permanent staff: Contingent workers are not on the company payroll, and they are not enrolled in the company benefits or retirement plans. However, the departmental managers that work with the contingent staff on a day to day basis often don’t understand how they must be treated differently. 

In practice, there is often a fine line between a contingent worker and an employee as they can often work side by side, doing the same job and sometimes, it can work out that the temporary worker has been in their post longer than the employee. The danger is of course, that a discontented contingent worker might try to build a legal case that he or she is a regular employee - and sue for company benefits.

Famously, independent contractors at Microsoft won a $97 million dollar award because they were misclassified as employees, despite having signed documents to the contrary. 

When hiring contingent workers, it is important that there is a clear demarcation between temporary workers and employees – and to communicate this to their departmental managers. It’s a good idea to address contingent workers differently in communications as well as on ID badges and it’s not a good idea to furnish them with company business cards or an official company e-mail signature (unless it’s very clearly marked that they are a consultant or contractor). 

And yes, I know it seems churlish to not invite them to office parties and softball games, but if you do, it’s a good idea to invite them officially as guests, rather than as a part of the team. 

You can read the full article here:

For the latest on Contingent Workforce news and trends, visit

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Tags: contingent, staffing, temp, temporary, temps, work, workers, workforce


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