Thursday, May 01, 2008

NOW: Benefits Denied

Benefits Denied
Host: David Brancaccio

Corporations are taking benefits from workers by calling them "freelancers."

Temporary workers and independent contractors make up nearly a third of the U.S. workforce, and represent a growing asset to companies who rely on freelance flexibility. But corporations are using the designation "freelancer" to avoid paying health care and other benefits, even though many of these workers put in the same hours as their covered counterparts. NOW looks at the effect of this tactic on the lives and personal economy of freelance workers.



Susannity said...

I think we have to be careful with which industries are being looked at in regard to contract labor. In the software industry, contractors are paid a lot more per hour than FTEs. The benefits they derive are through their contract agencies. I have worked as an FTE and a contractor for Microsoft. When I switched to contractor work, I doubled my pay. Contractor work also has a lot of flexibility which I personally like. However, when msft was a lucrative stock in the 90s, contractors sued Microsoft saying they should get a piece of that pie as well. They won because they were treated like employees (in a good way) - invited to all meetings, training was available to them, they could go to morale events. Contrary to Gordon Gecko's motto, greed was not good in this case. As a result of the lawsuit and payouts, Microsoft cut off all the bennies to contractors making them truly feel like outsiders, and they also put into place a policy that they can only work for 9-12 month stints and then a mandatory 3 months off from Microsoft to ensure they don't feel like employees. Most of the contractors I know find that hard to be forced off work for 3 months rather than having a steady job over years. So those greedy contractors made it bad for all subsequent workers. In other industries however, the corporations are taking advantage of PT and contractor work to help their bottom line at the contractors' expense. So my point is, yes, this is an issue, but I caution that we not look at ALL contractors in the same predicament.

Thivai Abhor said...

From my position as an educator, where they are attempting to move toward contract work--it is abusive and fucked up (I'll let other professionals comment on their situation ;)

Thanks for the outline (although you seemed to demonstrate why it is bad)