Safety Training and Staffing Agency Insurance

Staffing firms need healthy employees in order to facilitate the needs of their clients. Managers and employees benefit greatly from a workplace that has fewer hazards, which in turn reduces the number of worker injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. They also need staffing agency insurance to aid workers who fall victim to illness or injury. Promoting and ensuring employee safety and their well being is the responsibility of every staffing firm.

In return, they receive the benefits of improved worker satisfaction, higher productivity in the work force, as well as collaboration, recruitment, and retention, areas that will all increase dramatically when employers promote and ensure safer and healthier work environments.

Safety equals productivity

Staffing agencies often hire individuals based on their level of skill in a particular field. When they have quality, and qualified temp workers they can help their clients fulfill their needs. These employers often have hard deadlines to meet, so safety needs to be a priority because, just having one person missing from the equation means certain deadlines may not be met.

Each employer should consider the hazards that currently exist that it is in a position to prevent and/or correct, and is also in a position to comply with OSHA standards. For example, staffing agencies that provide general safety and health training will have a lower percentage of work place incidents, and host employers that provide specific training tailored to their particular workplace equipment/hazards will also reduce risk and injuries.

OSHA chimes in

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has concerns that some employers may use temporary workers as a way to avoid meeting all of their compliance obligations under the OSH Act and other worker protection laws. They also have concerns that temporary workers get placed in a variety of jobs, including some of the more hazardous jobs.

They go on to say that temporary workers are often not given adequate safety and health training or explanations of their duties by either the temporary staffing agency or the host employer. Therefore, it is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.

This is best accomplished through the establishment, and implementation, of employee safety best practices. By fostering a workplace culture that increases employer and worker awareness of safety procedures, staffing firms further demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a high quality work environment, and staffing agency insurance is a key component in administering care to injured and ill workers.

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The Many Layers of Staff Insurance to Consider

There are unique issues facing staffing and temp agencies that often need to be addressed, particularly where staff insurance is concerned. The necessity of maintaining appropriate amounts of insurance cannot be overstated. The risks are simply too high. One issue is the potential for significant coverage gaps, while employment practices liability concerns should also be considered a primary concern.

Determining which policies to purchase

Like all businesses, staffing agencies will benefit from a commercial general liability policy (CGL), and a temporary staffing liability policy is another vital consideration. A CGL policy contains two parts: coverage for property damage and bodily injury caused by accidents, and coverage for personal and advertising injury.

A temporary staffing liability policy provides the insured coverage for claims arising out of “wrongful acts” of one of their employees, a temp employee, or an independent contractor committed within the scope of their duties for the insured. This policy fills any potential gaps in the CGL policy.

The fact remains that employment agencies may offer several different types of employment-related services, or they may concentrate on just one specific industry. Services commonly offered are placing a worker with a permanent position, finding a specific type of worker for a customer company, providing employers with short-term or temporary help, or providing workers with job counseling.

It is very important to make sure that all parties understand their duties and responsibilities in order for things to operate smoothly. The worker who seeks employment, the operation providing the temp employee, and the customer company requiring the temp or part-time worker all must understand fully the terms and conditions of the employment arrangement.

There needs to be strict contractual definition as to where the obligation falls and who is responsible for providing workers compensation coverage, pays the fee for the employment arrangement, handles payment to the employee, accounts for taxes and other mandatory deductions, and who provides miscellaneous employee benefits, if any, such as health insurance or a 401(k) savings plan.

This arrangement can be quite complex and at times a bit confusing. This is why seeking out an insurer familiar with the nuances of operating an employment agency can be a vital resource when it comes to making decisions pertaining to purchasing staff insurance for your company.

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Co-Employment and Staffing Agency Insurance Issues

The importance of maintaining proper staffing agency insurance for companies enlisting the services of temporary workers is crucial to their success. These businesses have a lot of exposures and are often at risk for claims stemming from everything from property damage to sexual discrimination.

Staffing agencies and the companies that employ them need a solid understanding of both co-employment and how to work with a staffing firm to best handle any issues that may arise from this relationship, which is an important step in managing the many risks that often occur.

Handling co-employment issues

Co-employment is defined as “a relationship between two or more employers in which each has actual or potential legal rights and duties with respect to the same employee.” In a single employer/employee relationship, the employer bears certain responsibilities with respect to his or her employees, including paying wages, overtime pay, and taxes.

In addition, the employer has certain obligations with respect to providing worker’s compensation, benefits and pension plans, as well as ensuring civil rights compliance, appropriate labor/management relations, and a safe work site. In a co-employment situation, these responsibilities are often shared depending on how the relationship between the two entities is set up or created.

Co-employment is inherent in the staffing firm/client relationship, and since both have sufficient contact with an assigned employee, each company will be viewed as an employer. The staffing firm is viewed as the “primary employer” and bears most of the responsibility for the employee, which generally includes the following:

  • Pays the employee
  • Has the ability to hire and fire
  • Pays and withholds payroll taxes
  • Provides workers compensation
  • Provides benefits and pension plans, where applicable
  • Ensures civil rights compliance, and
  • Acts on complaints by the employee on working conditions

The client, on the other hand, takes full responsibility for supervising and directing day-to-day work, controls working conditions at the worksite, determines the required length of the assignment, and also ensures a safe work site, including civil rights compliance by employees.

Both entities must adhere to the safety and well being of the temp employee at all times. Having staffing agency insurance protects both the workers and the staffing company when safety issues, rights violations, or other claims relating to negligent acts arise.

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Employment Practices Liability and Temp Staffers

Temporary staffing agencies provide temporary hires to companies, which allow organizations to save on recruiting, training, and payroll costs, particularly when it comes to staffing high-turnover or seasonal jobs. But there may be considerable risks of employment practices liability attendant upon the use of temporary workers along with the cost-effectiveness of temp staffing.

Temporary workers, due to the nature of their title, are often dismissed quickly, without the same level of care and caution that managers usually exercise when dealing with traditional employees. Then there is also the risk that temporary staff will be subjected to sexual or racial harassment because of their limited time at a company, or the mistaken belief that workplace laws forbidding such behavior do not cover them.

Temporary workers deserve equal treatment

The concern is that companies may make important personnel decisions hastily or use criteria that wouldn’t normally be applied to their regular staff. This is rather alarming since, regardless of the length of the commitment, everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly. And the reality is that temporary employees are covered under most of the same laws that apply to regular staff, including laws relating to wages and hours, discrimination, sexual or racial harassment, retaliation, or whistle-blowing.

It’s the Human Resource (HR) department’s job to increase awareness among supervisors and managers that temporary workers are entitled to the same treatment as so-called “regular” staff. In addition, HR should encourage supervisors and managers to act just as prudently and carefully when dealing with temporary staff as they would with regular employees.

This effort should include a review of the organization’s employee manual to ensure that, wherever appropriate, policies are worded as necessary to make it clear that these laws apply to temporary employees as well. Employment practices liability is something that everyone should be aware of, and do their part in the prevention of any type of violations.

Hiring procedures and background checking

A growing number of employers conduct pre- and post-hire checks of applicant criminal history and other background information, which helps weed out anyone deemed undesirable. When it comes to temporary employees, HR needs to ensure that temporary-staffing contractors are conducting criminal or other background checks, as applicable, before sending over a temporary employee.

These requirements should be part of any service or vendor contract with your temp-staffing provider. Additionally, employers must continue to ensure compliance by outside staffing firms with various other employment-related laws, such as laws and regulations relating to payroll taxes, income taxes, and immigration laws.

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Temporary Employees and Staffing Agency Insurance

Staffing agency insurance is vital because it protects the agency and its employees from issues pertaining to liability concerns. These agencies utilize the services of temp employees, who often move from job to job and employer to employer. There is not a set time frame for how long an employer may retain a temporary employee, however, the longer a temporary employee is retained, the more likely it is a court will consider the temporary employee a regular employee, changing their employment status.

 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

 

To qualify for coverage, an employee must have worked for the employer for 1,250 or more hours during the past 12 months. A joint employer relationship exists for purposes of FMLA when a company has sufficient control over the work or working conditions of the temporary employee. When such a relationship exists under the FMLA:

 

  • The temporary agency and the client company must count the individual as an employee to determine whether the employee is eligible for FMLA leave

 

  • The primary employer is responsible for giving notices concerning FMLA leave

 

  • The primary employer is responsible for providing the leave, and maintaining health benefits, and

 

  • A joint employer will be viewed as the primary employer if it has the authority and responsibility to hire or fire, assign or place the employee, and provide pay and benefits

 

The primary employer is responsible for job restoration, and the secondary employer is responsible for accepting an employee returning from leave if the secondary employer continues its relationship with the placement agency and the agency chooses to return the employee to that job.

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

 

Where a joint-employer relationship exists, both the temporary agency and the client company are obligated to provide a qualified individual with reasonable accommodations on the job. Employer must have notice of such need, and providing the accommodation must not present an undue hardship.

 

ADA prohibits a client company from requesting only employees without a disability from a temporary agency. However, where a reasonable accommodation would involve significant expenses for both employers, despite the combined resources of the two entities, both entities can show undue hardship.

 

A temporary agency or client company that refuses to contribute to the cost of a reasonable accommodation may be liable for a failure to provide an accommodation, even if the other entity provides it. This clearly illustrates the importance of staffing agency insurance for these types of concerns.

 

photo credit: kevin dooley cc
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