W hen I was asked as a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” I responded like most kids with “a fireman” or “an astronaut.” I also went through a period where I wanted to be an architect, but once I realized that most people don’t actually want a playground slide in their house, I moved on.

Regardless of my career direction as a youngster, you never would have heard me say that I was going to be in a career where I would get excited about a National Labor Relations Board ruling! But that’s exactly what happened last Thursday when the NLRB issued its ruling involving waste management company Browning-Ferris Industries and staffing firm Leadpoint Business Services.

You can read more about the decision through the following resources: Spend Matters, NLRB and The Hill. But in short, the ruling indicates that Browning-Ferris bears equal responsibility for unfair treatment of Leadpoint’s employees, who were assigned as contractors in Browning-Ferris facilities. Additionally, as a co-employer, Browning-Ferris may now be required to engage in collective bargaining negotiations with Leadpoint-provided contractors.

This controversial decision raises more questions than it answers:

  • How will it impact companies that engage non-employee workers?
  • What fines, penalties and lawsuits might they be subject to?
  • Will this result in a reversal of the rapid growth of the non-employee workforce?
  • Will it force companies to change the nature of how they engage non-employees by pushing them toward statements of work versus time and materials agreements?
  • Will companies start using more freelancers and independent contractors to avoid the third-party risks driven by the buyer-supplier-worker relationship?
  • How will suppliers of all sizes respond? Will bill rates go up? Down?

Time will tell and this former wannabe-astronaut will be watching closely! What I do know is this: Those responsible for enterprise contingent labor and related services, who don’t have full control over their non-employees, should seriously consider going on the offensive.

One viable option is capturing all non-employee spend in a vendor management system (VMS), which allows you control and visibility into your non-employee workforce. This control will lead to informed decision-making and risk mitigation, regardless of the actual ramifications of the NLRB decision.

We’ll be posting more about co-employment risk, including covering updates about the ruling. We’ll also talk about how IQN’s customer experience, technological innovation, and partner ecosystem help our clients get the most out of their contingent workforces in light of how fast this market is changing. In the meantime, if you need to know what to do next to get control and mitigate your risks, reach out. We’re glad to help.

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