Aquent, the world’s largest marketing and creative staffing firm, today announced that it is extending sick pay to all of its talent in the United States and Canada. This is an unprecedented move as it makes Aquent the first staffing or gig economy company to do so.
“Aquent has been offering health benefits to our temporary workers for nearly 30 years. By extending sick pay to all of our talent across the United States and Canada, we are going above and beyond what is mandated by state laws,” said John H. Chuang, CEO, Aquent. “Offering benefits is how companies attract and retain the best talent. It is also the right thing to do, especially during the COVID-19 health pandemic which has adversely affected the lives of so many workers.”
There are approximately 11,000 staffing firms in the United States today that collectively hire 16 million temporary and contract employees annually, according to the American Staffing Association. In 1993, Aquent became the first staffing company to offer full comprehensive benefits, including health and dental insurance and 401(k) retirement plans to its temporary employees. With this announcement, Aquent is now extending this benefit, which is particularly necessary because the federal government, 37 states and the Canadian government do not have sick pay laws.
“While the government has taken some positive steps to help bring relief to businesses and workers, the sick pay provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act leaves millions of workers without coverage,” added Chuang. “Sick pay should cover everyone, especially during a pandemic.”
For talent working in the 37 states with no current sick pay requirements, Aquent will apply Massachusetts’ sick policy, which gives most workers “the right to earn and use up to 40 hours of job-protected sick time per year to take care of themselves and certain family members.”
The law further mandates that “workers must earn at least one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.” Aquent will retroactively accrue sick time earned from January 1, 2020. For talent in states and jurisdictions that already have sick pay requirements in place, their existing laws will prevail.
This announcement further enhances Vitamin T's Square Deal offering. Square Deal is a new service that enables companies of all sizes to offer highly customized benefits packages to their contingent workforce.
Contingent workers, including contract workers, temporary workers, and vendors, are playing an increasingly significant role in the U.S. economy. In some companies, up to 50% of workers are contingent, even outnumbering full-time employees in some cases. These workers hold a number of positions, from software engineers and consultants to security guards and cafeteria workers.
“Benefits inequality is a major injustice in our country that needs to be addressed. My hope is that our actions will serve as a catalyst for companies to treat their extended workforce the same as their full-time employees,” said Chuang.