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Joint Employers: Changing the Name of the Temp Game

Sept. 2, 2015
A recent NLRB ruling could position temporary workers as employees able to unionize.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that companies that use temporary agencies are considered “joint employers” of temp workers and share responsibility with the agencies for liabilities regarding those workers.  In addition, temporary workers that unionize have the right to bargain with the parent company as well as the temporary agency.

It’s a game-changing ruling, say labor attorneys who work with manufacturers, and employers who rely heavily on temps best not be sitting on their hands hoping it will all go away. Instead, they should be auditing their temporary agency contracts to see what changes they need to make—and consider bringing their contingent workforce in-house.

The NLRB case involved a Browning-Ferris Industries recyclry in California with about 60 unionized permanent employees, mostly working off site, and 240 temporary employees working on-site in sorting and cleaning. The Teamsters union argued that Republic Services, which owns Browning-Ferris, should be considered an employer of the temporary workers and subject to bargaining along with the temporary agency, Leadpoint.

The NLRB ruled that previous Board decisions about joint employer status dating back to 1984 were misguided, having “no clear basis” in the common law or in the National Labor Relations Act. Those decisions have left the board “increasingly out of step” with “changing economic circumstances, particularly the recent dramatic growth in contingent employment relationships,” the NLRB stated.

Read the full article “Goodbye Temps? NLRB Ruling Will Have 'Big Impact'” on IndustryWeek, an EHS companion site within Penton's Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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