Temporary Work Is Now Permanent

Temporary Work is now Permanent

Posted on April, 2020

Temporary workers or simply Temps, Part-timers, Interims are terms that has been around for over 8 decades globally both in organized and unorganized sectors. Temps were mainly used to offset resources for a project, to meet steep production demands, for seasonal work, for various leave cover, etc. Temps were well suited for certain generic skills and competencies what can be classed as ‘Plug and Play’ kind. This uberization of employment also overlaps in some ways with the gig economy. Temps account for close to 18% in the European countries and thus prompting some of the member countries such as UK to accord temps equal rights, of what a permanent employee would enjoy.

Temporary work has suddenly come to the forefront post Covid-19, due to the mass redundancies of the workforce globally. Such displaced employees got into survival mode to accept long term jobs at reduced salaries or temporary jobs at whatever salaries. Even labor regulators relaxed the rules of engagement to the extent the temps are now ready to storm and disrupt the organized employment sector. Employees today are hired to work from remote locations (WFH) and that promoted some organizations to hire temps without the need to fulfil certain statutory formalities such as a Labor Contract, work permit, health Insurance and other compliance related documentation which were attributed to smart hiring and cost saving measures. Circumventing residency or employment laws can have multiple issues. What will be the legal recourse for the employers should there be fraud, data loss or any misdeeds? What laws will be applicable? Will it be labor, civil, criminal laws or how about the employee not getting paid, what will protect their rights?

Temporary work must be managed within a framework and governance model to protect all the stakeholders, especially the employees. The organizations have a choice to directly engage the employee through a formal labor contract or engage a staffing firm to manage this scope. Within the UAE context the staffing firm will ensure compliance with the residency laws, obtaining a temporary work permit, compliance with the Wage Protection System (WPS), regulated working hours, put a NDA in place, provide health insurance coverage, ensure that the fringe benefits are administered and last but not the least the VAT payments are made. It could also be cheaper as the organization might need to pay the statutory costs only for the actual time utilized as the cost of work-permits for the staffing firm can be amortized over 24 months. Formal labor contracts will also help the government to collate data related to the level of employment, underemployment, unemployment so that appropriate measures and effective strategies can be drawn to boost the economy. Peter Drucker rightly remarked “what gets measured gets managed”.

Temporary working will be a permanent feature of employment landscape and is here to stay and therefore organizations must refrain from taking ad-hoc decisions to hire temps on informal contracts. As Craig Bruce the Canadian business tycoon once said: “temporary solutions often become permanent problems”. Organizations currently are evaluating what percentage of workers will be permanent or needed to be in the office or vice versa. HR teams are scrambling to realign polices for data access and timecards as the organizations are flattening procedural curve. While these are all work in progress what can be assuring is that engaging temps through the staffing organizations can be compliant, reliable and their outcomes predicable.