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Flexible Staffing Arrangements

A Report on Temporary Help, On-Call, Direct-Hire Temporary, Leased, Contract Company, and Independent Contractor Employment in the United States

Susan N. Houseman
August 1999

I am indebted to Lillian Vesic-Petrovic for outstanding research assistance, to Linda Richer and Babette Schmitt for assistance with reference materials, and to Nancy Mack and Claire Black for help in preparing the document. The research for this report was funded under purchase order contract no. 4030UQQF-99-2531-11354-000-00 from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor. The points of view or opinions stated in this document do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of the Department of Labor.

Table of Contents


    Executive Summary

1. Introduction

2. Definitions

2.1 Contingent Workers

3. The Number of Workers in Flexible Staffing Arrangements

4. Trends

5. Characteristics of Workers in Flexible Staffing Arrangements

6. The Quality of Flexible Staffing Jobs

6.1 Wages
6.2 Benefits
6.3 Job Stability

7. Training

8. Why Firms Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements

8.1 Fluctuations in Staffing Needs
8.2 Savings on Wages and Benefits
8.3 Screening Workers for Regular Positions
8.4. Accessing Special Skills
8.5 Other Reasons

9. Coverage of Workers in Flexible Staffing Arrangements by Labor Standards

9.1 Who is an Employee? Determining Independent Contractor Status
9.2 Who is the Employer? Determining Joint-Employer Status
9.3 Workers’ Compensation
9.4 Unemployment Insurance
9.5 Family and Medical Leave Act
9.6 Regulations of Employee Benefits
9.7 Anti-discrimination Laws

10. Placing Disadvantaged Workers with Temporary Help Agencies

11. Conclusions

12. References

Tables and Figures

Table 1 - Distribution of Employment by Work Arrangement, 1997

Table 2 - Characteristics of Workers by Working Arrangement

Table 3 - Occupation and Industry Distribution of Employment by Work Arrangement

Table 4 - Government and Private Sector Employment by Work Arrangement.

Table 5 - Percent of Workers with Low Wages and Incomes by Work Arrangement

Table 6 - Percent of Workers with Health Insurance and Retirement Plan, by Work Arrangement

Table 7 - Reasons for Using Flexible Work Arrangements

Figure 1 - Employment Indexes

Figure 2 - Percent Preferring a Regular Work Arrangement

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