Staff ‘swapping’ on the rise

Work Wise UK, a not-for-profit body pushing what it calls “smarter working practices”, says by temporarily loaning staff to other companies business chiefs can reduce staff costs without losing employees.

The idea has been picked up by unions and is endorsed by the TUC as a means of slowing runaway unemployment.

Work Wise UK chief executive Phil Flaxton says: “In a recession it is hard for businesses to find enough work for people, but this time they are trying hard not to lose skilled, trained staff.

In a story appearing the website he added: “This scheme could offer firms a solution while helping employers who need those skills on a temporary basis.”

But employment lawyers are sceptical about the scheme. They point out potential bumps in the road concerning, for example, confidentiality and which company is liable in cases of discrimination.

Jon Taylor, principal at law firm EMW Picton Howell in Milton Keynes, told the website: “It sounds like a good idea, but there are potential pitfalls.

“Where two staff-sharing companies operate in the same sector, there are issues such as intellectual property and confidentiality to consider. In a potential case of discrimination, which company is liable?

“And there is always the risk that employees on loan may decide they want to stay. If you can redeploy people, it is better for all concerned, as long as you take proper legal advice.”

Nevertheless, there are several examples of small businesses benefitting from staff swaps. What do you think: good or bad idea? Let us know by commenting below.

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