contractor work site

The federal labor board will be making a ruling in the next few weeks that could redefine it means to be an employer in the U.S. The outcome of the Browning-Ferris Case has the potential to hold businesses responsible for working conditions and policies of contractors and subcontractors, including temporary workers.

According to Bloomberg News, the outcome could be historic and cause ripples throughout the business world:

The decision, following an earlier conclusion by the labor board’s general counsel that McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) can be held responsible for working conditions along with individual restaurant owners, could amount to an “existential” threat to the franchise business model, said Matthew Haller, a spokesman for the International Franchise Association in Washington.

“This is a modification of what it means to be an employer in America,” he said. The association is preparing a public relations campaign and urging Congress to get involved.

At issue is who qualifies as a “joint employer” under U.S. labor law, a definition that could have broad impacts. The prospect of a shift has already prompted an outcry from businesses that say it could raise costs and slow a growing sector of the economy.

Yes, businesses are basically threatening to stop “not hiring” workers — i.e. cease outsourcing jobs to temp agencies or companies with low-paid sub-sub-contractors if they’re forced to think about the ethics or hiring practices of the company they’re handing their money to. Of course, the original reason that many companies outsource work is because they don’t want to be responsible for health benefits and other amenities that full-time, direct hires often enjoy. Outsourcing also often protects business from being in the line of fire for lawsuits resulting from personnel issues.

Maybe they’ll start doing the direct hiring thing again if that’s what it comes down to?

Or will they just get it over with and send all the viable jobs to outsourcing farms overseas?

  • Ratcraft

    Good and bad. Good for the worker, bad for the people wanting to buy what they build.

    • razzytaz

      True… prices will increase due to the additional costs the company is paying their temporary labor. Good for people though. Benefits are important and more companies should be giving them out.

  • razzytaz

    Outsourcing jobs outside the US is a horrible thing. I hope companies don’t do this. We need to keep the work here in the states.

    • Dodie Peterson

      I’d prefer to keep the jobs here, too, but you do realize that this is partly the fault of the American labor force? Many of the jobs being sent overseas are because Americans won’t do them or want too much money for doing them.

  • SelenaJ25

    This could be a turning point in the business world. I know a lot of people that lost their jobs back when the recession started and they have had to go through unemployment which has sent them to a lot of these temp agencies that they are referring to. I have worked at places that hire temp workers during the holiday season and they always end up making less money and do more work than the people that work there on a permanent basis. It is going to be interesting to find out where this goes from here.

  • Jasmine35

    I hope that these companies just bite the bullet and start hiring more direct workers instead of trying to send all of our jobs (that so many Americans need) overseas. I think this could be a good thing since these big companies should be held accountable for safety measures. I don’t understand why temps should have to work in such poor conditions, while a full-time employee makes out great. This is an issue that should have been looked into years ago.