Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

Contingent Workforce

Objective: Gain an Understanding of the Contingent Workforce

The contingent workforce is composed of those individuals who work for an organization but are not permanent full-time employees. Use of a contingent workforce is increasing and it is estimated that contingent workers represent more than 20% of the total United States workforce. The dynamics of today’s organizational and business environment often drive employers to use contingent workers to achieve a strategic advantage. These drivers of change are discussed extensively in this chapter and in others, but a brief summary is appropriate.

Increased competition and the need for cost-efficiency require that employers have flexibility in adjusting employment levels and employment costs to demand for its product or services and in relationship to its level of operations, both of which might be constantly changing and volatile. A permanent full-time workforce does not permit that. The changing psychological contract encourages lack of permanency of relationships, both in employee and employer expectations.

Contingent workers are in alignment with those expectations. Changing technology often requires new skills that permanent full-time employees might not have and might not be capable of developing. Downsizing and rightsizing could result in the loss of organizational capability, which can be augmented with the use of contingent workers. The increasing difficulty of compliance with the complexity of employment laws and the cost associated with them can be largely avoided by having workers that are employees of other organizations. Finally, significant cost savings can often accrue from outsourcing the organization’s work to organizations located in foreign countries in which the wage rates are low.

However, the use of contingent workers does not come without some organizational concerns and disadvantages. Increased flexibility often brings about loss of control. The employer might be able to control only the outcome of work, not the means used to obtain it. This issue is further discussed in Chapter 5. Use of some types of contingent workers might, in the long run, be more expensive than permanent employees because the source of those workers must not only be reimbursed for compensation and benefit costs but must also be paid a fee in addition.

There is a concern regarding the loyalty of employees that are not employed on a full-time basis. Will the employee act in the best interest of the organization or of the actual employer? Another issue of substantial concern is the impact of this strategy on the remaining permanent full-time workforce. Does the practice lower overall morale and induce stress and concern among the remaining workers who might become worried about their own job security?

A final issue is one of ethics and social responsibility. The SPHR must lead the organization in balancing its obligations to its employees, the community or communities in which it operates, and society as a whole against the organization’s legitimate desire to maximize its profits for stockholders. The advantages and disadvantages of use of the contingent workforce are summarized in Table 3.8.

Table 3.8 Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the Contingent Workforce




Perceived lack of loyalty

Savings in the cost of taxes and benefits.

Lack of knowledge of the organization's culture, policies, and procedures

Access to expertise not internally available.

Potential for overall higher costs, depending on the situation

Potential savings in overall compensation costs.

Concern with disclosure of organizational proprietary information


Impact on morale of permanent workforce


Loss of internal capabilities


Potential for increased training costs when contingent workers must be trained on unique or unusual processes or procedures used by the organization

A contingent workforce can be composed of many types of workers. Employers often use several sources simultaneously. Common types or sources of contingent workers include the following:

  • Part-time workers Part-time workers can be obtained from a temporary employment agency, in which case flexibility is maximized and the organization avoids liability for taxes and benefits. Part-time workers can be employees of the organization. Although that arrangement might be somewhat permanent in nature and of limited flexibility, organizations often provide no or a limited range of benefits, resulting in cost savings.

  • Temporary workers Traditional temporary workers are obtained from employment agencies that specialize in providing these types of workers. However, the employer can also hire temporary workers internally.

  • Consultants Often consultants are contracted with to provide expertise not currently available to the organization and not needed on a permanent and continuing basis.

  • Contract workers Contract workers are often hired on a project basis. After the project is complete, the organization has no further obligation to the individual.

  • Outsourcing Outsourcing is the process of contracting for services or products with external vendors rather than producing them internally. Frequently outsourcing results in substantial compensation savings because of the economies of scale that are created when an organization specializes in a particular type of work and/or employs specialized software. Outsourcing often permits access to specialize expertise not available internally to the organization.

  • Offshoring Offshoring refers to hiring workers in foreign countries to perform tasks previously done in the United States. Oftentimes, substantial cost savings can be realized because of the lower compensation rates in those countries.

  • Leasing Leasing typically involves a contract with a professional employer organization (PEO). A PEO is an organization that assumes the employer rights and responsibilities for employees that it provides to its clients. An employer wanting to lease its currently employees signs a contract with a PEO and the PEO hires the employees. The organization then leases them back, with the PEO assuming the responsibilities of an employer. Employee leasing tends to be particularly suited for small employers that do not have internal expertise to comply with the complexities of today’s employment laws. Also, because the PEO has a much larger workforce, it might be able to provide the former organizational employees with much better benefit packages. Obviously these services do not come without a cost, and it is estimated that leasing raises total labor costs by about 5%. For many employers this is additional money well spent.

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020