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Managing Co-Employment Risk and Avoiding Tenure Term Limits

Managing Co-Employment Risk and Avoiding Tenure Term Limits

For brands to be successful today, they must connect with customers across channels in an authentic way to earn their loyalty. This monumental set of tasks demands that you employ the best, most digitally savvy creative and marketing talent — people who know how to speak the customer’s language and communicate the value of what your company offers.

These talent needs ebb and flow quarterly, and sometimes even from week to week, according to new deliverables, product launches, and seasonal demand. Effectively managing your workforce is not a simple equation, though. Anticipating and meeting demand with high-quality creative and marketing talent takes a lot of effort and resources. And unless you’ve got a pool of talented people ready and waiting for your call, it may be challenging to secure the right people at the right time.


Using an agency or outsourcing some of the work is a tempting way to scale on an as-needed basis, and definitely an avenue worth exploring for businesses with shifting HR needs. But as the latest whitepaper from Aquent Studios argues, it takes a highly skilled partner to make sure you’re getting access to the flexible, freelance talent you need, within the limits of the law.

Here’s a glimpse into where and how managed services can have a positive impact on your business:

Understanding the benefits — and risks — of co-employment.

In 2000, Microsoft agreed to pay a $97 million settlement to independent contractors and contractors obtained through a staffing company. The workers argued they’d become “common-law” employees of Microsoft’s over the years, while never being able to benefit fully from the advantages handed out to permanent staff, namely 401(k) contributions, stock purchase plan, and other benefits.

That case brought attention to the issue of co-employment, a situation that arises when two companies oversee different aspects of one employee’s relationship to a workplace — for instance, a staffing firm that has provided long-term temporary workers to a tech company.

Since the Microsoft ruling, other litigation and court proceedings (see: Browning-Ferris) have helped further shape the rules around co-employment. This debate is still very much in flux, and risks being unclear for quite some time.

Meanwhile, hiring and training takes an incredible amount of time, energy and money to do.  Luckily, a good alternative to doing outright hiring still exists. We like to call it “in-sourcing.” What it looks like, essentially, is having a managed services partner come in — either on-location or remotely — to manage your company’s HR operations, including recruiting, ramp-up, training, workspace arrangement and other matters.

Knowing the rules.

Freelancing is becoming the new normal for modern workers, even for highly skilled roles like digital marketers and graphic or UX designers. To access this specialized talent, many companies rely on contingent workforces to scale and optimize their creative and marketing departments.  

Hiring an army of freelancers and independent contractors may sound like a good idea — no benefits or sick days to pay! — but there are some major pitfalls to beware. The regulatory landscape around contingent workforces is changing fast. Last year, New York passed Freelance Isn’t Free, which outlawed continually hiring freelancers without ever giving them written contracts. Many rules like it exist in different jurisdictions around the country, and the world.   

Knowing the ins and outs of rules like these in every single jurisdiction your business operates in is challenging to say the least. It’s a headache that can largely be avoided by hiring a managed services partner to do the hard work for you.

Make a smart decision.

When it comes to staffing, in-house hiring and training takes an incredible amount of time, effort and money to do. Using a managed services partner to help address real-time staffing needs may be a smarter, more efficient use of a high-growth company’s energy.

Check out our new whitepaper, Building Creative and Marketing Teams To Scale, for more information on how this approach to human resources might be a good fit for your company.


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