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Temporary employment agencies (also known as staffing agencies) are a relatively new phenomenon. They have exploded onto the scene as a great way of avoiding laws, dodging government regulation and cutting labor costs. States with major ocean ports - like New Jersey and California - have a higher amount of temporary employment agencies than other states, but overall it has become a nationwide issue.

These agencies claim that they are fair and follow all the rules and regulations including the Fair Labor Standard Act (FISA). Agencies say that they are filling a necessary void in the market, doing a good deed and finding work for people who need it most.

They argue that temporary agencies fill personnel gaps that are created with seasonal upsurges, sick or maternity leave, vacations and during times of rapid expansion.

But according to numerous studies, staffing agencies serve a much more insidious purpose: agencies are nothing more than a tool for employers to cut labor costs by dodging taxes and government regulation.

OnTarget Staffing, a temporary employment agency based in New Jersey and Florida, claims that employers using staffing agencies to provide labor to companies save on;

•    Withholding taxes
•    Social security
•    Unemployment/Workers Compensation
•    Payroll Costs
•    Recruiting Costs
•    Turnover Costs
•    Advertising Costs
An employer that hires agency labor is not legally responsible for these hired workers - the staffing agency is the one held responsible. And staffing agencies frequently violate current labor law because the laws aren't strong enough.

Current labor laws don't protect undocumented workers, and they don't contain strong whistle blower protections, so too many workers are afraid to stand up for themselves in fear of retaliation. This allows staffing agencies to retain total control, and continue getting away with stealing from workers and refusing to honor safety standards.

More conservative estimates say that on average, staffing agencies steal wages from at least 50 percent of employees, while almost 6 in 10 agency employees have stated that they work in 'unsafe' conditions.

Most of the temporary workers provided by staffing agencies wind up working somewhere along the supply line of common 'big-box' retailers like Wal-mart, Target, and Home Depot.

Until we strengthen labor laws that prevent employers from hiring temporary employees as a way to evade their legal obligations, and provide workers with wage and benefit protections, this problem will continue to threaten the entire American workforce.

Originally posted to Paddy Ryan on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They're scum. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alexandra Lynch

    Kelly is scum, so are all the rest. Very much, they're maggots on the body of dead prey.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:57:27 AM PDT

  •  If it is illegal to own another Human Being (0+ / 0-)

    How come it's ok to Lease One??  These people are nothing more than pimps.

  •  I have been temping since 2007. (6+ / 0-)

    I am fortunate in that I work in the same office with the regular employees, so no unsafe hazards, and my pay is decent, and I don't get ripped off.  Plus I get my health benefits through my husband's public service job.  

    However, the group I work for really needs a true FT person- but I don't see it happening.  Another temp's contract is ending, but rather than hire him, they are replacing him with another temp.    

    The corporations doing the renting are just as much to blame as the companies who are renting out.  The temp renters want to be free of any obligation and if they could rent all their employees, I am sure they would.  And I see them nickel and dime and cut back on the regular employees to boot.

    •  I am happy to hear that you are one of the (0+ / 0-)

      fortunate temp workers. You are correct when saying that both the renters and the agencies should be blamed. Both want to be free of any responsibilities, and frequently blame problems on one another.

      The best way to rob a bank is to own one - William K. Black

      by Paddy Ryan on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:03:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I didn't get my health benefits through (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery

        my husband's job, I would be taking a bit hit.  The insurance you get through temp agencies has a very high deductible for what you have to pay.  One of the temp agency reps told me "It sucks.  We have the same plan.  Stay on your husband's plan, it has to be better."  If this was a min wage job, I don't see how anyone could afford it.

  •  So, what happens in a case (7+ / 0-)

    that faces me, right now?

    I have to staff up probably 15-20 low-skilled laborers for 8 weeks, 40 hours / week, for a construction project. I do NOT want to hire those folks permanently, as my project will end and who knows when we'll get the next. I would far rather a responsible agency (responsible, as defined by the other labor I've spoken with who have been employed by them) to cover all the interviewing, drug testing, taxes etc than ramp up to do it myself.

    What would you suggest?

    "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

    by nzanne on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:18:35 AM PDT

    •  Look into the temp agency that you employ very (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, Alexandra Lynch, lonespark

      thoroughly, make sure that the agency isn't a frequent violator using independent third party sources. Some agencies are worse than others. Responsible moral employers have a duty to make sure that they don't do business with abusive staffing agencies.

      The best way to rob a bank is to own one - William K. Black

      by Paddy Ryan on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:27:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They are NOT all "scum"! (7+ / 0-)

    Yes, some of them treat their workers horribly, and should be punished for it. Better laws are needed, to be sure. But there are many staffing agencies that are useful and honorable.
    I am an over-55 IT professional  who would find it nearly impossible to gain a "real" job in the IT world, where younger=better. But luckily I prefer contract work, since I can work for 6-24 months and then take a nice break to pursue my own interests. Over the 15 years I've been doing this, I have partnered with some wonderful agencies, who know my skills and have relationships with local employers that they leverage into good assignments for me. Sure, they take a larger chunk of the client payment than I would like. But the wages I do receive are commensurate with my qualifications and duties.
    There are indeed certain agencies that I have learned will underpay and otherwise screw their workers - every profession has its black sheep. Naturally I don't do business with these bottom-feeders. But it's not fair to call ALL staffing agencies "scum".

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:19:42 AM PDT

    •  Agree, there are good agencies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lonespark

      I have worked with several in the accounting field, and find them to be on the up and up. Never had a problem with pay etc. Always have had totally honest payments and withholding.

      I think you need to distinguish between the agencies that do general labor and those that deal in highly specialized skills. The latter tend to be very reputable and honest.

      Most of my assignments have been special projects that would never result in a full time job. Things like proof reading the due diligence files, cleaning up a purchasing system and so on.

      Agree, that the insurance sucks. But that is true of all sorts of jobs.

  •  I know someone who recently got a job (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, DruidQueen, Sparhawk, lonespark

    thru a temp agency. It's office work. I worked temp myself, years ago.  Many jobs are temp to perm.  If you work out well, they will offer you the job.  It works as a screening method.

    Democrats - We represent America!

    by phonegery on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:36:26 AM PDT

  •  It is not right to tar them all as being bad (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DruidQueen, lonespark, Mr Robert

    For small businesses, it makes sense to use a staffing agency if these following conditions apply:

    - you don't know all the employment laws for your location.  With changes to rules, laws, regulations, etc, you need to be a professional in knowing hiring, firing, tax paying, etc.  The temp agencies are selling their expertise at this while taking the burden away from the small business owner who probably just wants to do the business part of things.

    - you need people for particular, defined project(s) so that expectations are set at the beginning for the business, the temp company and the worker.

    - Your business income goes up and down, often without much notice.  Having people hired through a temp agency helps to bring in people or let them go if the business needs change.  Hiring people permanently doesn't give you that much flexibility

    - You are not familiar with where to recruit your workers.  Temp companies take care of finding people for the positions you tell them, and hopefully they have the skills you've listed as being required.  They know far more of the ins and outs of where to find the people than a businessman who (for example) wants to open a new branch or isn't sure something will work out.

    I have worked for a number of temp companies over the years, as well as contract companies and I also own a business.  I'd be careful when contracting for an employee through a temp agency, but I know there are many out there of varying quality and the good ones are worth their fees.

  •  Ok. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lonespark

    Not all staffing agencies are scum.

    At my old job in Orlando, I used Kelly Services to hire temp workers for the express purpose of covering vacations and sick days.

    When I moved to Portland, I became a Kelly Services temp, and it's the only way I've been able to pay my bills. While I've been temping--and Kelly loves me to death because of my skills so they send me to a lot of their higher-end clients--I have also been sending out resumes and applications.

    Not a peep of a phone call have I heard. Nothing. Nada. If it weren't for Kelly Services, I would be in trouble.

    They have treated me well.

    IMO, don't paint all temp agencies as bad. Someone above said Kelly was scum. Not sure what their issue was with Kelly, but I have been on both ends of Kelly Services and have ZERO complaints. I think you just have to be careful and research temp agencies before picking one to work with.

  •  I worked for/through temp agencies in 1967-1974 (0+ / 0-)

    and Manpower was already well-established by that time, as was "Kelly Girls" (which then changed its name as the women's movement warmed up). This is not a new phenomenon, although the number of people working "temp" and contingent jobs is much higher.

    It used to be that temp agencies mainly filled either positions for people on vacation or maternity leave or something, or someone left suddenly and they used temps while searching for a permanent replacement (and the temp might be hired if she was good), or there were special seasonal or event-related staffing needs. I once spent something like 3 weeks typing (pre-computer) the consolidated tax returns for an insurance conglomerate -- 10c an hour extra for being able to do accurate numbers.

    And some temp agencies now do offer benefits if you work a certain minimum number of hours.

  •  Some are good, some are bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paddy Ryan

    Some it depends on location!

    My temp agency in Hawaii (Adecco) was spectacular, went to bat for me on numerous occasions, and always were quick to find me a job (I had developed a very good reputation with them--some places even asked for me by name!).

    Their office I had been attatched to before I moved to Hawaii had been good, and had gotten me a temp to perm job. I did have to be a squeaky wheel to get positions with them, though. Most companies used them as a screening service (if you could handle the job, you got hired).

    When I moved to Maine, I signed up with several, and most seemed pretty useless. They really seemed to hold the fact that I was disabled against me, something that DID NOT matter to Adecco, even when I used a cane and was 300lbs. Meh. Now I don't have the transport to get to a job, so I'm not pursuing it anymore.

    Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

    by LoreleiHI on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 03:40:19 PM PDT

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