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  • Working with Temporary and Contract Employees

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    How to Manage Temps and Contract Workers

    Once you determine your temporary workforce needs and hire individuals, you must manage them. This will differ according to the type of worker you hire: temporary, contractor or intern.

    Temporary Employees
    Whether you hire temps directly or lease them through an agency, you will need to manage them like you do the rest of your workforce. Laws governing harassment, discrimination, and workplace health and safety apply to all employees, including your temps.

    Work with permanent staff to make sure they blend in with temporary workers the way you want. Check to make sure your expectations and job description for temps are in writing, doable and agreed upon by them. Whether you hire directly or through an agency, know that minimum wage and overtime laws still apply. Note that, according to the 2014 Small Business Success Study, many small business owners already pay their hourly employees above minimum wage. Keep this in mind to ensure that you're setting competitive pay rates.

    Contract Workers
    Also known as independent contractors, contract workers are in business for themselves. Regardless, you have to manage them. Make sure you have a clear job or project description. You may require a contractor’s assistance until a project is completed, for a variety of tasks or for predetermined hours per week.

    Whatever your need, put it and your expectations into an agreement that the contractor signs. This contract should include a project or job description and deadlines. Consider a work-for-hire agreement, which your company can end with little to no notice. You might also require the contractor to carry minimum levels of liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

    Finally, think about having all contractors sign confidentiality and non-compete agreements. Most every company should insist on the first agreement, but be fair when asking for a non-compete agreement from a contractor who works only in your industry. In that situation, the contractor will very likely balk.

    Interns
    They may be young and eager to learn, but interns are a special type of temporary employee for other reasons—they are legally there to learn. If you offer internships, you need an infrastructure in place to deal with interns. A coordinator and site supervisor—the same person in some small companies—can make life easier for your company and its interns. That person can also make sure interns perform the work their higher education programs expect of them.

    Contrary to what some believe, interns are not gofers, nor a receptacle for all your menial work. Of course, they can perform these duties if permanent employees also do the same, but they are in your place of business to learn, not to do all the grunt work.

    Make sure you have a process in place to accurately communicate your interns’ performance to their schools. Work to ensure they fit in with your regular workforce. If you do this right, you could have your next permanent employee upon graduation.

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    Game Plan

    • If you’re not satisfied with a temporary agency’s placement after attempting numerous corrective actions, you have a right to ask for a different employee. The agency likely will comply, especially if you have a relationship with it.
    • Independent contractors may have other clients, so get a commitment in writing. You can find a guide to managing contract workers here.
    • Get some tips on running a successful internship program here. Another place to look for useful tips is here.