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Category Archives: Things That Need to Change

Where to start with this one… I think I’ll start by just coming out and saying it.

Temp Agencies are bad. I’m happy that I don’t have to use them anymore, but I do share the frustration by those who do.

Lets look at the way these agencies work, then breakdown what it means for the Agency, Employer (Company you are sent to often called the customer), then finally the Employee (You the person, representative in the equation).

The Agency is nothing more then a device, a money making, glass ceiling for all, employment blocking device. “Now wait a minute.” you say “I am presently working through one of these agencies.”
Well okay so you are, and so are about 700 000 other Canadians who face some rather similar ugly realities. First off lets get one thing straight right off the bat, YOU ARE NOT, by the very definition of the word employed-

[To have or keep at work; to give employment or occupation to; to intrust with some duty or behest; as, to employ a hundred workmen; to employ an envoy. [1913 Webster]

You are “representing the agency”. All you need to do is go into any of these types of agencies and walk through the mountain of paper work that must be read, signed, and dated before you even receive the offer of so-called employment. If one pays close attention there is always somewhere in there a clause or a caveat basically whittling you down to the equivalent of a commodity with such phrases as “You a representative of – agency name- …” or “- Your Name- as a client of – agency name- if sent to – Customer Name- … have the right/duty/responsibility blah blah blah”, basically to take the human factor out and lower the standard all around. Lets look at some examples.

A- – Your Name- gets a call to go to a – Customer- for a scheduled start of a shift, after the introductions (on site), the tour, you are given your task, you go about your work and at the end of the shift you head home. Next night (if asked) you return, but you are given a task that involves something unsafe/uncomfortable/beyond your skill-level, (which actually happens quite a bit as you are dealing with people at the agency that more-often-then-not haven’t even seen the details of the work you are sent to do as they have a template they use over and over again to fill/recruit.) So you inform the supervisor/contact that you are not willing to do the task for the safety/comfort concerns which by the very papers you signed at the agency gives you the right to do and in MOST cases actually are laid out in the Employment Standards of Canada but guess what, you finish your shift after being given another task and lo-and-behold you get home after work only to realize that the company called and requested that you do not return. The very next day someone else from the same agency you are “contracted” with goes in your place. I have witnessed this personally and it is actually quite a downfall of this agency “employee” relationship.

B- – Your Name- gets a call to go to – customer- 4 days after you signed up because the – agency- called on 20 people to show up for 1 opening and you inform them that you can’t as you have a medial appointment (example) scheduled for the stated start time, so the – agency- thanks you, hangs up, and moves you to the back of the so called “availability list” to leave you waiting for the next call.

This type of example could go on for days as the very combination/practices of a Temp Agency allow this and other instances of employment violation to occur by the very design.

The inherent problem with this sort of arrangement is actually quite clear, as an Employer in Canada you are bond by certain rights and obligations, same for an Employee, yet it is evident in the practices of the – agency- this can be easily circumvented, as you are reduced to nothing more then a client and the employer is reduced to a customer, one by one Standards can easily be sucked into the grey area/void created by this very arrangement. Right in the Canadian Worker Hand-guide is the following; You as the employee have the right/obligation to refuse any work deemed unsafe to undertake whether it be your skill-level or inherent dangers of the task (in a nutshell).

So basically if you are told to jump 2 feet in a room that only has 1 foot clearance and the ceiling is lined with razor wire YOU as the Employee have a duty/right to refuse and the Employer has the duty/right to investigate, but with the agency involved said example does not exist, instead the customer can call the agency and have the client replaced with one who will do the aforementioned task without question. That example may be a little extreme, but it does show the weakness of the arrangement and the problems that arise for the working folks who have had their rights stripped away in recent years and it also illustrates the basic and most important flaw of this set-up YOU are no longer a valued employee you are point of fact a commodity and a revenue generator for both parties. This is why under this arrangement 90% of the time you see temps doing tasks in their positions that actual employees of the customer would refuse and create nothing but a problem for Human Resources. There is also the fact that because of expend-ability created by the agreement the client (temp worker) must perform the same as an actual employee or else. Lets look at this closer as in my opinion it is unfair and quite horrifying.

Lets say I (an actual employee) of the employer receives $18.00/hour to do my job, now the agency receives that same rate (in a lot of cases more) to pay the client (temp worker) $10.00-12.00/hour to do the same task, now for such a reduction in pay-rate this temp is to show the same qualities in performance as I for 300-500 hours (usual length of contract)? Personally, I believe no, in my opinion any supervisor or H.R. representative worth their own wage ought to be able to tell if the client is a good fit after a few shifts, also this arrangement in fact increases the clients probation time by 2 or 3 times which can have someone working for up to a year without a proper wage, benefits, or at the very least some sort of sense of security.

So lets stop the expend-ability, the loss of worker rights, and together take back the voice of the employee and say no to circumventing the rules.