High-Tech Contingent Workers Here to Stay
Recent rulings in the case involving Microsoft and its contingent workers have been taken by some to mean that the use of contingent workers will be decreasing in the high-tech sector. Andrew Schultz, President of Pro Unlimited, has a very different opinion.
"Nothing could be farther from the truth," Schultz says. "In reality, the growth of the contingent workforce will continue at an impressive rate in the industry."
The Microsoft case originally involved a few hundred independent contractors who claimed they had actually been operating as employees of the company … and, accordingly, should have been entitled to the company’s benefits. In May, a federal appeals court told the company that it might also be liable for retroactive benefits to thousands of temporary employees from staffing agencies.
"Despite the coverage of both the Microsoft and Time Warner cases," Schultz says, "the growth of the contingent workforce continues to outpace the growth of the core workforce by more than 10 percent a year. Corporate America – especially high-tech corporate America – is very committed to a flexible workforce."
In some high-tech firms, he notes, the percentage of contingent workers is already 30 percent. And in some e-commerce companies, the contingent workforce is actually twice as large as the employee base. The reasons, he says, are simple.
"Companies today need the flexibility to move quickly," Schultz says, "to embrace new technologies, and to respond rapidly to customer needs. And much of the best talent today – particularly in technology – is found within the contractor/consultant workforce."
Schultz says that the high-profile court cases are causing companies to take a closer look at how they approach the process of managing these workers in areas, such as length of stay, background checks, proper classification and contracts with staffing services that provide them.
"These court cases are sending a very clear message," Schultz says. "There are significant tax and legal liabilities associated with the improper management of the contingent workforce. And they can really cripple a company."
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