It’s time to disengage a contingent worker – what happens now?

You’ve arrived at the conclusion… it’s time to disengage a contingent worker… tough call, right?

Today’s workforce is comprised of a complex ecosystem of workers. Aside from company employees, an organisation may have any number of non-permanent workers, such as contingent, freelance, contract and SoW workers (amongst others).

It stands to reason, therefore, at some stage, one of the contingent workers in the mix simply doesn’t work out. It could be for any number of reason.

  • their performance hasn’t been up to the standard required
  • they have missed project milestones
  • they have actively violated project or company rules

Any and all of these issues are a concern. And knowing the best way to manage the situation, so your business impact is minimal, and the worker has access to all entitlements, is crucial. If you need to disengage contingent labour, a measured and informed approach, is really the only way.

In today’s post, I’m going to show you by way of example, the best strategies to performance manage and disengage contingent labour.

disengage contingent labour

Set yourself up for success

We published this post last week, on the best tactics to deploy for the successful engagement and management of your contingent workers.

I raise this point now, to encourage you to establish a well-documented, custom-fit and strategic contingent workforce management program for your business. This raises the likelihood that your contingent workers will be happy, engaged and – hopefully – operating by the book.

It may also help you to avoid the scenario where you need to disengage a contingent worker.

Sure, rogue contingent workers may well materialise in your business, irrespective – but if you’ve got your program foundations right, you’ll at least have the best processes and procedures in place to manage out these workers in a compliant, seamless manner.

disengage contingent labour

Start a conversation

If you discover that there are issues with a contingent worker, your best first move is to start a conversation.

Let them know there is a problem.

Let them air their point of view.

Offer counselling and guidance (this is all dependant, of course, on nature of the grievance at hand).

The worker may be unaware of the issue, they may have different expectations to yours. An honest, open, private and polite conversation may actually fix the issue at hand. Tread with caution and considered optimism.

contractor performance

Consider their environment and your management practices

As much as you may not want to admit it, the environment in which the worker is placed and the management they’re under could possibly be the problem.

Hear me out.

If, for example, a contingent worker is showing negative signs or poor performance, do you, as their manager, immediately resort to micro-managing and constantly monitor their every move?

Or, is their surrounding team of permanent employees not supportive? Do they block the contingent worker from access to project information?

These are just two examples (there are many more) that may negatively influence the behaviour and output of your contingent workers.

So it’s worthwhile to look internally to see if you or your business environment may be the cause. And go about making it better for all your workers.

…keeping people engaged, self-motivated and driving innovation with distributed teams remains challenging. Source: Forbes

Now… if all else fails, and you really do think it’s time to disengage a contingent worker, then… read on!

contingent worker management

Disengage a contingent worker compliantly

You’ve realised it’s time to disengage a contingent worker in your organisation. The first thing to check at this early stage is your contingent labour contracts.

You’ll no doubt have a termination clause in the contract, stipulating the cause/s as to why a worker may be disengaged from the business. This is first and foremost a key-criteria to disengage a contingent worker.

disengagement of worker

Contingent Worker Rights

You’ve read about the cases coming out of the Fair Work Ombudsman, where non-permanent workers have been exploited, underpaid or unfairly dismissed. Our advice here is to seek advice.

And by that, I mean, seek the advice of experts in this field. Your options include, amongst others, workplace lawyers or contingent workforce management experts (like CXC). Your investment in these services will save you countless hours, money and headaches.

Every worker in Australia has rights. So too do organisations who may find themselves on the wrong side of worker behaviours that are less than exemplary, or worse, outright illegal. So, when checking your contracts, make sure you also seek the best advice to act upon.

contingent worker offboarding

A real-world example

The following scenario played out with one of our clients here at CXC. It was an unfortunate and tricky situation. Thankfully (for the client), they took advice from us and the situation was resolved and completed with caution, care and compliance.

The situation

Our client had multiple contingent workers in their business. Their in-house technology system would allocate work to a contingent worker, based on the worker’s availability, skillset and experience.

It became apparent that some of these workers would swap jobs, to meet personal preferences, eg. a more convenient location. This was a practice that was banned by the client for a host of compliance and ethical reasons.

It came to pass that two contingent workers were regularly swapping jobs and falsifying their timesheets. These two workers would collect the relevant parts and materials for the job, swap with their mate, and go about their business.

Their plan became unstuck, when one of the workers, having collected project parts from a supplier, DHL, accidentally left the parts and materials on the roof of his car, and drove off. When the duty manager at DHL discovered the smashed parts in his parking lot, he called our client – the hiring manager. And the jig was up.

The CXC solution

Upon learning of the scenario, we took control of the situation with swift action.

Firstly, we interviewed both contingent workers.

The ‘original’ worker for the job (the one who wasn’t actually doing the job), lied and said he was in front of the client, at the time of being called out. The other worker confessed immediately.

We then reviewed the contracts of both workers to see if it was possible for the client to terminate them without cause. And, we provided detailed investigative findings to the client, in writing. We left no stone unturned.

The outcome

We realised there were two paths the client could take. They could give the workers a formal warning. Or they could terminate both contractors without notice.

In the end, given the gravity of the contractor’s behaviours, our client decided to terminate both workers. Following on from that the pool of contingent talent remaining in the client’s business was made very clearly aware of the consequences of job swapping. We also worked with the client to ensure there were better processes and cross-checking procedures established, that would prevent this from happening again.

It’s an unfortunate scenario when the business has to disengage a contingent worker.

Turbulence in a business is never easy and the fallout on your team, both employee and contingent, requires equal tact and consideration.

Importantly, by taking a long-term vision and adopting a strategic approach to both process and talent management, you’ll have the right framework in place to ensure a swift recovery.

As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help, please contact us here.


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