Co-Employment – What the Heck is it Anyway?

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
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“CO-EMPLOYMENT.” It’s a scary word in the staffing industry. Or, is it? Co-employment is the agreement between two or more companies, where both companies share some legal obligations and responsibilities.  It  is easy to manage if you have your information and facts straight.  If an employee is not on your company’s payroll, then you are likely using contract or temporary labor.  In short-if a client company manages a temporary worker by giving them day to day tasks, they are defined as a co-employer.  Here are some basic guidelines for both the client company and the staffing agency involved.

If you are the client company:

  • Refer all questions regarding pay rates, pay checks, promotional opportunities, benefits, and personal matters to the staffing agency.
  • Do not terminate, or end an employee assignment that is supplied by a temporary agency. You can suggest recommendations, but do not complete the action yourself!
  • Do not counsel a temporary employee. Even if it’s as simple as coming into work late a few days in a row, consult the agency instead.
  • Do not reference or discuss any type of “contract” or “offer letter” with a temporary employee.

If you are the temporary staffing agency:

  • Develop a relationship with those that provide daily instructions to your temporary employees so that you and the client know exactly what is being communicated.
  • Spend time with your associates on the floor where they work. If you can catch the questions that your client shouldn’t answer, it saves them from being caught in a sticky co-employment conversation.
  • Invest time into complaints or allegations from your temporary workforce-do not push to the end of your to-do list. Handling these issues internally will save you time and headache later down the road.

Additionally, in a co-employment situation, both companies involved are liable for the decisions made by the other. This means, if an employee files a legal allegation, both the employee’s staffing agency and the client company could be liable for damages.   For this reason alone, it is incredibly important that the staffing agency and the client company work closely together and agree on their responsibilities and viewpoints.