Microsoft tightens policy on temporary staff in US

21 August 2015

Microsoft has tightened its rules around the employment of temporary labour in the US.

The company said it wanted to make sure everyone that worked for the company was aligned with its core priorities, and shared its commitment to strong minimum standards for employees.

In a letter from chief procurement officer Mike Simms to US suppliers, the company said workers not managed under outsourced agreements would only have access to the firm’s buildings and systems for a maximum of 18 months at a time, with a break of at least six months between assignments. In situations of critical business need, a six-month extension could be granted to external staff for access to buildings and systems. After the 18-month limit, workers would be able continue if needed, but without access to corporate network or facilities.

Work managed under outsourced arrangements would not be subject to the 18 month limit. Microsoft said it was in the process of assessing whether particular external staff engagements qualified as outsourced arrangements, but said it believed the significant majority of work would fall in to this category.

The firm also reiterated the announcement it made in March that it would require anyone doing work at a Microsoft supplier on behalf of Microsoft to be an employee of that supplier, and not an independent contractor.

Microsoft said the policy changes had come after reassessing its outsourcing arrangements. It said it had concluded that for work best done by outside companies, it was best practice to use outsourced arrangements where possible.

The letter said: “Some external staff engagements will not meet the criteria for outsourced arrangements. We expect that, going forward, these engagements typically will involve seasonal or business-driven spikes in work that are shorter in duration. In these situations the break in building and network access after 18 months will apply. This approach is intended to ensure that Microsoft managers are making thoughtful choices about how and when to use external staff.”

Microsoft said it was also requiring suppliers give their employees at least 15 days paid time off.

“That’s also why we require anyone doing work at a Microsoft supplier on behalf of Microsoft to be an employee of that supplier, and not an independent contractor,” the letter said. “This is designed to ensure eligibility for important workplace protections such as minimum wage, overtime compensation, unemployment insurance and workers compensation.”

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