Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Temporary Employment, Permanent Solution? but Absence of Benefits Has Many Crying Foul

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Temporary Employment, Permanent Solution? but Absence of Benefits Has Many Crying Foul

Article excerpt

As companies take on more long-term temporary workers, a growing number of those employees are filing lawsuits to get the same benefits as the full-time staff.

Even though the United States has about 1.3 million temp workers, Labor Department surveys showed that only 45 percent of the temporary workers had health insurance, and that was almost always because a spouse had coverage. In the surveys, just 2.5 percent reported any form of retirement plan.

Some temporary agencies do offer access to limited benefits packages for workers who remain with the agency for a limited period of time.

But workers are saying that's not enough and they're fighting in the courts for more benefits.

About 10,000 longtime contract workers at Microsoft filed a lawsuit in 1992 demanding the same benefits as full-time Microsoft employees.

Temp workers are considered employees of the staffing agency, not where they're working. They are hired in two ways: by a staffing agency which then places them in a position or by the company directly as a temp worker.

Both types of workers were part of the Microsoft case.

The San Francisco circuit court ruled in May that those Microsoft workers were considered "common-law employees" and not employees of the temporary agency that cut their paychecks. That would make them eligible for all regular Microsoft benefits. That ruling has been appealed.

Now, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Microsoft is demanding that the staffing agencies it contracts with offer benefits including 13 paid days off a year -- whether as sick leave, comp time or paid vacation -- medical and dental insurance -- of which the agency pays half -- vocational training worth at least $500 and a retirement savings program with some matching by the agency.

Microsoft isn't the only company thinking twice about keeping long-time temporary workers.

Time Warner Inc. has been sued by the Labor Department for denying benefits to hundreds of independent contractors and temporary workers hired through an agency. …

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