I recently spoke with several contract workers to see how they liked contingent work, how client relationships were working, and what they thought of their staffing companies.
One contingent worker was very upset with his staffing company. If you read below, you will see that his treatment is likely to result in some unexpected consequences for the staffing firm.
Question: How many staffing firms have you worked for?
Answer: Just one.
Q: How has it been?
A: I’ve had a horrible experience with my staffing company, which has done a plethora of illegal things.
We are employees of the staffing company, but the company has falsely classified us as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes and [therefore] they make us [the temps] pay those payroll taxes instead.
Q: That does sound like a classic example of misclassification. What are some other examples of their dealings with you?
A: When we first started on Oct. 13th, we signed some paperwork that said N45 [without knowing what it stood for]. What we found out right after starting that it meant we wouldn’t be paid for 45 days, until around Thanksgiving! Very tricky! After much protesting, we got the waiting period down to N15.
We continued to get yanked around. Despite the fact that we worked from Oct. 13-31, at the end of the month we were only paid for the first two days we worked, Oct. 13 and Oct. 14. I didn’t get a real first paycheck until a month later – Nov. 16 - and even then it was only for two weeks pay instead of a month’s worth of pay. (We are told we’ll get the remaining two weeks pay after the project is over.)
Working basically for free for an entire month was awful and I for one was wondering if it was a scam.
Q: What else happened?
A: It gets worse. We have one person in our group who joined us late, in early December, to replace someone who was fired. This guy went two full months without pay! Yes, two months of working full-time every day and no pay! Again, completely illegal.
Q: This staffing firm is supplying contract staff to a major tech company, correct?
Q: And is saying that it’s the employer of record?
Q: Scary, for everyone: the client, the staffing firm, and the contract workers. What else?
A: Well, this is the first company for which I have ever worked (and probably one of few companies in the country) that doesn’t have direct deposit. We have been given two choices: a check or wire transfer.
I decided to go with a wire transfer. My bank charges $15 for each wire transfer. I have worked with my bank to reduce the fees, and it has reduced some of the fees, not all, and now my bank won’t do it anymore. It makes me angry, I shouldn’t have to pay to be paid.
I am thinking of switching to a check, but it is taking people who receive checks an extra week in the mail, so I would be going at least three weeks without being paid.
Q: Wow. That’s certainly putting people who work paycheck to paycheck between a rock and a hard place. Have you or your group taken any steps besides revolting against the N45?
A: No, I need the job. But I want to report all of these illegal practices to the IRS, the Better Business Bureau and other places. I also plan to go on Yelp and tell EVERYONE TO NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES [emphasis his] work with this company. And I am going to go and do it, but it’s best if I wait until the job is over.
= = = = =
I told the contract worker that I was very sorry for his situation. Here you have duplicity, shady dealings, and exploitation all rolled into one.
You know, after being in the staffing industry for so long, and meeting so many great and professional people, I am saddened and upset that these types of business practices are still so common. The ASA has for years tried to raise the image of the industry, but it’s examples like this that make the average person think of staffing as nothing but a scam.
These are the stories that end up getting covered in the mainstream press.