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All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to risk.

Is Your Staffing Company Involved in its Industry?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

The temporary labour/contract staffing industry has several industry associations.  They range from general staffing associations such as ACSESS (Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services) to associations based on a more specific subset of the overall industry like the NACCB (National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses).  As a basic foundation, these organizations represent the interests of the companies that comprise the industry and they set guidelines for industry best practices, business ethics and they will interface with other organizations (such as the Canadian Federal and Provincial governments) to ensure the market for human resources remains open for member organizations, Canadian businesses and workers (temporary or otherwise) alike.

NACCB and ACSESS logosNot all staffing companies belong to industry organizations and even fewer take an active role.  Why would this be important to incorporated contractors, sole proprietors and temporary workers?  Why should you care?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

By working with or through a staffing company that is directly and actively involved in Industry Associations, there are the following benefits:

  • They agree to operate to a higher standard – Industry Associations are quite prescriptive in how they expect companies to behave.  By becoming a member, staffing companies agree to a strict set of guidelines, standards and business ethics.
  • They are open to new ideas and are committed to improving their capability and services over time.  Industry Associations provide professional training and business development courses for their membership.  They work together to stay on the forefront of new trends so that they (and the contractor partners that they represent) remain relevant in the changing market.
  • They influence Canada’s employment rules and business environment through their work with government departments and committees.  They take part in business conferences and influence educational programming by providing relevant market data points for colleges and universities.  Through member companies, your collective voices are heard by organizations and institutions that matter.
  • They are up on the changing legal landscape.  Things like Deemed Co-Employment and Personal Services Businesses that directly impact the contractor community are better understood and, through sheer force of numbers, their messages are heard by policy makers.  Industry Associations are currently lobbying the government, seeking clarity for contract workers with respect to PSB policy.  Through clarity, Canada’s contract workforce will be able to make adjustments to reduce risk.  Industry Associations are taking the lead in this process to benefit all contractors.

Eagle takes our corporate citizenship very seriously.  We have been and continue to be extremely active contributors to ACSESS (Eagle’s CEO is on the board and has been a past President) and the NACCB (Eagle’s President is also the current President of the NACCB).  In addition, our President is a founding member of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT) and Eagle’s Vice-President of Government Services sits on the Informatics Professional Services Advisory Committee for the Federal Government.  Our company is also a member of a variety of industry organizations including the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  Because we know the importance of all of these organizations, we take every opportunity to educate the market as to their value and we encourage the participation of our peers.  In return, this promotes the standards and ethics in our industry and has positive effects on independent contractors across the country.

How much priority do you place on your agency’s industry involvement?  Do you think that you might consider it more often when choosing your agency?  Tell us why or why not, we’d love to get your opinion!

Contractor Best Practices

Establishing a strong business presence is an important step to ensuring both you and your Independent Contractor business is protected.  It helps to think of your business in terms of two different contexts: the business structure and your behaviour as the business owner.  Below are some tips to help you establish your business presence:

Structural Tips

  1. Business woman bookeepingHire a professional accountant to ensure you’ve properly set up your incorporation
    • Keep detailed records
    • File proper tax returns
  1. Set-up a separate business banking account.
  2. Maintain appropriate expenses
    • Determine in advance what is billable to your client and what will be considered a business expense
    • Keep mileage logs, as well as any home office bills
    • Determine legitimate business expenses, such as your website, marketing costs, etc.
  1. Risk of loss is a key differentiator
    • Is there risk of loss in your contract with your staffing agency?
    • Maintain your own business E&O insurance (talk to Eagle about how to acquire this insurance for $21.00 per month)
  1. Leverage opportunities for more profit through more hours
  2. Discourage your agency, or client, from mandating your hours of operation at a client site
  3. Avoid numbered companies and name your corporation.

Behavioural Tips

  1. Act like a business, not an employee
  2. Avoid the 9 to 5 workday – vary your hours at a client site.
  3. Avoid politics and people issues at a client site
    • Don’t partake in the water-cooler chatter
    • If something, or someone, is in the way of completing your mandate, focus on the issue, not the person
  1. Don’t expect to attend your client’s social gatherings or events such as the annual holiday party. If you do participate, pay to attend  and use the opportunity to network
  2. Take on additional contracts with multiple clients, even if only part-time
  3. Invest in regularly upgrading your skills through training activities paid by your incorporated business.
  4. Bring your own tools to a client site – laptop, office supplies, etc.
  5. Maintain a company internet profile.
    • Website
    • LinkedIn company page
    • Facebook company page
    • Corporate Twitter account
  6. Advertise
    • Maintain your own business cards
    • Maintain a listing in various directories (i.e. Yellow Pages)
    • Consider sponsorship advertising opportunities

Lastly, if you do get audited, let your staffing agency Recruiter know about it. While there are no guarantees, the industry association might be interested in getting involved.

If you have other tips or advice, please share them in the comments below.

Does Your Recruiter Work with an Industry Association

Why Should You Work with a Staffing Company with Industry Association Membership?

Eagle is a strong proponent of participation in associations and memberships within our industry, and we believe that any good corporate citizen really should belong to industry associations.  So why is it important to a candidate, independent contractor or temporary employee to choose to work with an association member in lieu of a non-member?

  1. Serious companies recognize the need to support associations.  Working with a company that belongs to an industry association means that you are working with a company that is serious about their business.
  2. The association fights for the rights of the members, their employees and their contractors. A by-product of that effort is that they are fighting for the non-contributing companies too.  How fair does that sound?  If these companies are not fair to their industry association will they be fair to you?
  3. The members are kept abreast of the issues of the day. As an example, each month, the ACSESS Government Relations Report lists its current initiatives. The NACCB lobbying efforts are also continually focused on a couple of big issues.
  4. How do you know your company understands the rules applicable in the staffing industry if they aren’t involved in the associations that help to define it?  Anyone can “hang out a shingle” and sound credible, but the rules around deductions for temp versus sole-proprietor, or for independent contractors, can get interesting and change quickly.  Associations provide advice on these complex issues and support to their members on how these changes affect their business. The end result is added protection for you.
  5. Industry associations hold their members to a code of conduct and not all companies do! A code of conduct ensures that members remain ethical not only today while you’re working together, but well into the future.
  6. Industry associations will arbitrate and provide expert advice when issues arise.  It is easier if the companies involved are dealing with members.
  7. Industry associations provide ongoing guidance and education to ensure that their members are up-to-date on legislative requirements further ensuring the protection of those that work with them.

Here in Canada there are a couple of primary industry associations that represent the staffing industry:

  1. Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services NACCB and ACSESS logos(ACSESS) is the largest, representing the industry in general.
  2. National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses (NACCB) is probably the next largest with a mandate of supporting those staffing companies in the IT space specifically.

There are also local associations.  For example, CabiNet is a local Ottawa-based organization focused primarily on companies supplying contract services to the Federal Government.

How do you know if they are a member of an industry association? Ask them! If they belong to one of the larger organizations mentioned above, visit the association website.  All the members are listed.