Rivermate | Product owner - Andrew Simon

Global Work Glossary

Who is a contingent worker?

A contingent worker is a non-employee engaged by a business to perform specific tasks or projects, typically on a contractual basis. Unlike permanent staff, contingent workers are not on the company's payroll and are compensated solely for the work they complete. They are not entitled to bonuses or benefits beyond the agreed-upon compensation. Despite this, contingent workers often enjoy flexibility in choosing their work environment and schedule, as long as they meet project deadlines.

The demand for contingent workers spans various industries, from marketing to healthcare, and businesses often hire them to address temporary or fluctuating labor needs. Companies may utilize contingent workers to navigate staffing changes, such as staff relocations or retirements, ensuring continuity while seeking permanent replacements. Additionally, tight labor markets may drive the demand for contingent labor, with companies seeking cost-effective solutions to fill skill gaps and reduce hiring expenses.

While the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the trend of contract staffing, more individuals are opting for contingent work by choice, contributing to the growth of the gig economy. Employers benefit from reduced costs associated with onboarding, training, and benefits, as contingent workers are not entitled to these expenses. Moreover, hiring contingent workers allows employers to access talent pools globally, enhancing brand exposure and productivity.

However, hiring contingent workers presents challenges, such as the risk of misclassification and difficulty in establishing company culture due to the transient nature of contingent work. It's crucial for employers to properly manage contingent workers to avoid legal repercussions. Distinctions exist between contingent workers and temporary-to-permanent hire workers, with the latter being employees on trial periods for permanent roles, whereas contingent workers are engaged on a contractual basis without the intent for permanent employment.

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