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Everything You Need to Know About Permatemping

September 1, 2021
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Everything You Need to Know About Permatemping

Modern temporary staffing agencies have been around for quite some time now. Around the time of the Second World War, staffing agencies began to appear in the US to fill labor shortages due to the war efforts. From the 1940s onwards, temp staffing has grown outwards and upwards, to the point of near globalization. 

Practically any country you visit around the world today has some form of temporary staffing available, either through contract workers or specific staffing firms. Obviously, there is a great need for temporary jobs when a labor shortage occurs or there is a gap in a company’s employment. Still, temporary staffing can sometimes pose a danger to the very same people it works to employ. 

This is due to one phenomenon in particular; permatemping. When you first hear the term, permatemping sounds impossible because nothing can be permanent and temporary at the same time! Unfortunately, that’s the exact problem that has been plaguing many temporary workers, and it’s starting to come to a boiling point. 

Here at LACOSTA, we’re adamantly against permatemping, and we want to work to make sure that it dies out as soon as possible. While our efforts internally help keep our team members from this danger, more significant changes in the temp staffing industry are needed.. Keep reading to learn more about the problem with permatemping and how you can help make it a practice of the past. 

Permatemp Definition

Before you know how to fix a problem, you’ll need to know what the problem is in the first place. A permatemp refers to a temporary worker that fulfills all the duties of a permanent employee without the security, benefits, or salary of a permanent employee. Often, permatemps begin in a temporary position with the expectation it will become a permanent job, only to stay in the same position for years with no change. 

As of right now, it’s estimated that about one-third of all temporary workers in the US fit under the label of permatemp, and that’s a huge problem. Clearly, it is a significant issue for all of the temp workers that currently fit the bill, but it is also damaging to the temp staffing industry as a whole. Temporary employment can be ethical and extremely helpful, but if there is a reputation in the industry for permatemping, many legitimate staffing agencies can suffer. 

It is also worth noting that this is mainly a United States issue, as many other countries have decided to ban permatemping entirely. From Australia to Switzerland, over 30 countries have developed specific “anti-permatemping” laws, yet the US is behind the ball in that respect. 

Why Is It So Harmful?

Permatemping is exploitative, there’s no question of that, but many people would like to know precisely how permatemping hurts those involved. In our eyes, there are three significant reasons to avoid permatemping. 

Lack of Protection 

When an employee whose official status is “temporary” takes on the work of a permanent employee, they do so without the standard protections of a full-time employee. There is very little reassurance that their job will be safe, creating tension and uncertainty about their work on a day-to-day basis. At the same time, because these workers are not contracted as permanent employees of the company they are placed at, they do not make an equal wage, often leaving them underpaid and without many options.

Unequal Wages 

Companies tend to use permatemps for their staff because it can save them heaps of money. By paying their long-term temporary employees a lesser wage and pocketing the difference, these companies can fully take advantage of cheap labor. Naturally, this hurts those in temporary jobs, as this can often mean they are not making a livable wage. Simultaneously, it can slow down production and labor within the company, as workers can become frustrated at the inequality they observe. 

When an employee is labeled as temporary, despite serving his or her function for sufficient time to be considered permanent, they are doing the exact same work as everybody else, without the same compensation.

No Benefits

Even if you overlooked the unequal wages, shaky legal protections, and low morale of permatemps (which obviously, you shouldn’t), you’d still have to reckon with the fact that they rarely, if ever, get benefits from their employment. This means no retirement planning, 401(k), health insurance, or other traditional job benefits! 

What Can We Do?

Thankfully, there are already steps being taken towards ending permatemping. Following a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft in 2000, laws around the country have slowly been changing to reflect the outcome. That lawsuit, which was eventually settled for $97 million, brought permatemping to a public platform, and ever since, similar cases and complaints have been cropping up across the country. 

Apart from country-wide changes, permatemping can be stamped out through the actions of companies and individuals. At LACOSTA, we’re focused on providing top-quality labor solutions, with full protections in place for all of our team members. Every LACOSTA team member is a permanent worker under LACOSTA, which offers benefits, legal protection, and thorough job training throughout employment. 

Hopefully, it is only a matter of time before we see the end of permatemping as we know it!

LACOSTA’s Managed Labor Solutions

At LACOSTA, we have provided top-quality staffing solutions for over 30 years. Our employees are fully trained, supervised and employed by LACOSTA.  meaning that all you have to worry about is providing the job description of the needed position and we’ll take care of all the rest. 

Reach out to us for a quote today, or check out our blog for more information on all the services that LACOSTA can provide.

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