Have you ever worked for an employer that allowed you to work almost enough hours to be considered full time but not enough hours to receive full time benefits? I haven’t, but I can imagine how frustrating that can be, especially if you are married and have children. I recently read an article that indicated that there is a growing trend of companies hiring more contractors versus traditional full-time workers to avoid paying for full time benefits in an effort to cut costs. The article made me think about whether or not this practice violates some ethical principle or if it is just smart business.
I used to work as a recruiting manager for a firm. When I began to work I was told that I had up to 400 hours per week to use for my staff (which I had to hire). I was also told that the general practice was to hire 10 full-time staff members to help me run my operations but I had the freedom to split up those hours however I saw fit. After creating my plan, I determined that my operations would be most efficient if I hired 24 part-time workers instead (12 would work 20 hrs per week each and 12 would work 10 hours per week each). As my operations progressed and I was alloted more hours per week I first rewarded my most efficient workers with more hours then I hired more staff and split the time as I deemed necessary. My entire operation was supposed to take one year; I finished in 7 months and under budget. I also want to mention that my entire staff were contractors; even if they worked full time their contracts specified that they were “intermittent temporary part-time employees” and as such would not be eligible for benefits.
Even though in this particular case full-time benefits weren’t a weighted issue I began to question whether or not I would have done the same thing if full-time benefits were at stake. After much thought I decided that I would in fact have made the same command decision for the sake of the operation.
I think it also important to note though that given the current state of the economy most bussinesses are at an advantage when it comes to selecting employees and determining pay/benefits because people just need work and are willing to accept anything rather than have nothing. This is where I think some companies may be simply taking advantage of workers. I think that there is a difference between cutting costs for efficiency sake and cutting costs for selfish profit.
I might be wrong; maybe it is all about the money and exploiting workers’ desperation isn’t as bad as it sounds. But what do you think? Is cutting costs by denying workers full-time benefits a violation of ethical principles or is it just smart business?
This is the link to the article I was referring to: