However, the choice isn't always available on desired assignments. To limit
liability, some enterprises will not work with self-employed independent contractors
because these indies are not incorporated and often have limited, if any, insurance
coverage. Other companies prefer to forego the administrative nightmare of working with
hundreds or thousands of independent contractors. These agencies provide the bodies and
simplify the paperwork.
Consultants belong to a special class of independent contractors. They arre paid to
offer advice or to carry out a defined project with a specific deliverable. Consulting
companies are made up of anywhere from only one to thousands of employees. For billing
purposes, the client may require a consulting firm to report aggregate hours broken
down by the project. The individualized work efforts of consulting firm employees are
never tracked by the client, as is the case with contractors.
Be wary about the consultant label. Independent contractors are often wrongly
referred to as consultants. Recruiting companies also call themselves consultants
because of the role they play locating qualified workers, but the term can stretch
Leasing isn't just an automotive term anymore. Employee leasing involves a company
outsourcing complete human resources administration for a class of employees. Companies
such as Microsoft are famous (or infamous) for contracting with an employee leasing
company to supply programmers or analysts on a long-term basis. Leased workforces can
range in size from one to several hundred employees.
A team leader, often an in-house employee, supervises these permatemps. The agency
is the employer of record and takes care of all hiring, payrolls, administrative
paperwork, regulatory matters, and benefits. In addition to programmers, database
administrators are often found in this arrangement.
As Microsoft officials know, benefits, especially stock options, can be a big issue
for both contingent and permanent staffers. PACE's Ziegler has a mission: "My goal is
to make it possible for a downsized, full-time employee to enter the contingent
workforce and not give up any benefits, and at the same time to have the advantages of
the self-employed." He says PACE makes that possible by handling many of the tasks --
obtaining medical insurance, funding the contractor's pension plan, negotiating with
employers -- that contractor traditionally neglects.