Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Temp Trick

Quite possibly the most interesting revelation that I discovered in my time at WAL-MART was a devious scheme to control their new workers and deny them benefits. It is a slight of hand used by the store with its new hires and I am the perfect example of how this works.

As I mentioned before, I was hired as a temporary peak-time cashier, which means that the company can work me for as many or few hours as they want without providing benefits for three months. Ordinarily peak-time workers (which is the same as part-time) must wait for two years before becoming eligible for benefits; with this little trick that date is pushed back yet another three months. Just as significant is the fact that temporary workers aren’t peak-time or full-time, but rather any-time. If for example, I was hired as a permanent peak-time associate, I would be limited to working 32 hours per week. Due to my temp status, the store was not held to this threshold when scheduling me to work, a perk that they exercised during all 7 weeks of the peak holiday shopping season.

Not only this, but as a temporary worker I am only under contract for three months. WAL-MART sets a termination date for 90 days after being hired and is under no obligation to keep me on board. In essence the three months were a limbo period where I was forced to walk on eggshells in one marathon job interview. Inexplicably, in a lapse of judgment I had been lulled into believing my friends in the store when they reassured me that I would be kept on since I was such a hard worker. I was jarred back to reality a couple of weeks before Christmas when I overheard one of the CSM’s saying in a hushed tone that “We had a great group [of temporary hires] last year and they let them all go. And they were hiring again a month later.” With this I was forced into an exhausting guessing game of reading into the mixed messages of my co-workers. Once again, it isn’t hard to imagine the stress that this uncertainty would cause a low-wage worker who is trying to provide for his or her family. And it wasn’t until the day after Christmas that the Front-end Manager said as an afterthought on my way out the door that, congratulations, I would be staying on.

For these reasons, WAL-MART loves its temporary workers. So much so that it will use any excuse in order to get more of them. Mine was the rapidly approaching holiday shopping season that they desperately needed more cashiers for. But I would later find out that even the most flimsiest of occasions would serve as sufficient justification for not hiring permanent workers. For the previous half-year it had been the summer renovations that took place at the Supercenter, although the actual logic used by the store is unclear. Nearly all of the renovations were done by outside contractors with only the smallest of projects done by actual WAL-MART associates. This gap in logic was seemingly lost on the employees in the store who had been hired as temp workers, nearly all of whom dismissed the incident one big misunderstanding.

These aren’t theoreticals that I am speaking in; all of this did happen. I won’t be eligible for benefits until a staggering 820 days after my hire date. I worked as many as 46 hours in a week, even though I was hired as a peak-time worker. And most importantly, there was a Post-Christmas massacre at our WAL-MART Supercenter. I made the cut, but at least five of my fellow hires did not. There was the socially-awkward young man who I had painstakingly built a rapport with. Or the tough-looking but disarmingly polite teen. Or the tall, soft-spoken red-haired boy and the sadly forgettable girl. And most tragically, the friendly, emotional pregnant woman, who gave birth to a healthy young boy on Christmas Day. All five were young like myself, and perfectly capable cashiers in every sense as far as I could tell. And after slaving for months for WAL-MART Stores, Inc. all five were casualties of the temp trick on the day after Christmas. Two short weeks later the store would be hiring once again and the cycle started anew.

46 comments:

The Renegade Pumpkin said...

This is common practice in the High Tech industry, and it is an outrage. I will leave companies unnamed for now, but they employ this trick with college new hires. Basically, they have a sly manager pretend he's "trying" to get the employee in as a full-time rep, but that there's a "company-wide" hiring freeze. Even when other divisions are hiring.


A couple links on this subject:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/05/28/BU83613.DTL

http://www.contingentlaw.com/

Anonymous said...

I work at Wal-Mart as a cashier and it is hard work! However, when a temporary worker is hired for peak-time in Wal-Mart, they are told they are a temporary employee over and over. Common sense tells you that, so why would one expect to be hired on?????

Anonymous said...

does walmart drug test temp workers?

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Anonymous said...

When temporary workers are hired, they sign a letter explaining their temporary hire details. If I were in need of a job, I would certainly rather work for 90 days rather than seek work for 90 days. I work in HR for Walmart and since we have such a big company, we will constantly be open to bad publicity. We currently have over 2 million employees, and that's better than being on unemployment benefits.

Anonymous said...

Imagine that, all but five of the temp workers were laid off, as promised, after the peak season. All had work to provide for their families for Christmas. Some, like you, even got overtime, meaning extra pay. None were promised that they'd stay on. The woman who gave birth on Christmas Day certainly wasn't looking to stay on after Christmas.

I have to agree with previous posters on other entries, you're a drama queen.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Walmart drug test the temps also. If your going to be a new hire or a rehire you still have to do a drug test. It's Walmart policy and procedure.

Anonymous said...

I was hired as a temp for a customer service manager and was told everyone coming aboard were temps while probationary time. I passed the drug test of course and then after 10 days was called in and told my temp position was completed, I said did I do something wrong, comment from boss, no, but you can reapply in 30 days. I don't get it, no I unemployed, surprised and had passed several other better paying jobs up and am astounded! I don't get it

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Anonymous said...

i have to say i must work at a wonderful walmart lol because i am temporary and if i need more hours all i have to do is ask management and they give them too me ive been temporary and going on 6 months :) very pleased may i add

Anonymous said...

My roommate was hired as temporary at walmart and told that it was for a max of 90 days at which time she would become permanent or let go, then it was extended to four months and now is extended to six months. During this time she cannot ask for days off, or change her availability. So the myth that it last for 90 is just that a myth, unless someone else can find any laws pertaining to temporary workers. We fully expect them to extend the time frame for her to remain temporary again.

Anonymous said...

So what , that doesn't make it right. Your job is in jeopordy because they could simply fire you and replace you with a temp for less pay. I don't care how good of a worker you are and neither do they it's all about money open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

I just got hired in as a temp. They tell you 90 days and you might get hired on. You can ask for days off because I already have one day for my daughters school stuff. all I can say is that I can't complain i'm really not making that bad of money (9.35) and it puts food on the table and pays my bills I am getting some good hours as well.

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Anonymous said...

I was hired on to Wal-Mart as a temp cashier for "holiday help". I accepted a "temp" position. However.... I was told over and over by many CSMs, seasoned associates and even a salaried member of management that "If you do a good job, they'll hire you permanent after your 90 days are up". 90 days came and went... nothing. Six months in, I started getting the message that my badge would expire in a few days. "Oh, don't worry about it, everyone's does." is the responses I got. The day before it expired I was told "You're rolling over to a permanent associate but your time starts over." Meaning that the past six months earned me nothing but the discount card. One week after this so-called roll over I was informed that no, that is no longer true. I'm still a temp with no hope of transfer, raises or any benefits of any kind. There are associates that are approaching their year anniversary date who are just finding out that they are indeed still temps and have earned nothing but the hourly minimum wage rate they started with.

Anonymous said...

i've been a temp for about a month and a half and took the job simply to make some cash while i was home from college for the summer, of course i didn't tell them that in the interviews though. anyway, knowing that i'll be gone by august, i've already called off twice - about 3 weeks or so apart. i just want to know, do they evaluate you from temp to full after the 90 days or is it whenever they want? i just want to know so i can put in my two weeks before they let me go just in case for some magical reason i ever decide to add this job to my resume.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Wal-Mart as a seasonal employee and in the orientation they paint this big picture of how you can move up in the company, but the truth is that hey use the good workers and give them a sense of hope they might be hired on after the 90 day's. Chances are the only ones that will be hired on are the friends or family members of management. Being a Temp is a great way to earn some money for a short period of time, but don't let the Managers use you, just work your 90 days and move on!

Anonymous said...

.......it isn't only Wal-Mart that does this temporary contract hiring. Many places are doing this to avoid taking people on permanently and paying benefits. Although it would be nice to find somewhere permanent, I was grateful to have worked my 90 day's and would definitely go back again!

Timothy Williams said...

Can a temp be fired in their 90 days for refusing to do someone else's job

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Anonymous said...

Yes. A temporary employee can be let go at anytime. That is the purpose for hiring temp employees. I worked for WAL-MART. It is a job, nothing special. I find Management very uneducated. My Manager said retail is the only industry left where he can move up to store manager without a HS diploma. Goodluck with that one!!! LOL

Anonymous said...

I was recently terminated from a temp spot at a local Walmart......what is the correct rehire process?? Do I wait 30 days or 6 months to reapply?

ImOnlyHuMAn said...

They did the same thing to me last night but my manager so rude about it and said it in front of the other employees.

ImOnlyHuMAn said...

They did the same thing to me last night but my manager so rude about it and said it in front of the other employees.

Cierra Hartmann said...

Yea they test everyone

Anonymous said...

Okay so this is super late and no one will probably read this but I just got a call for an interview (it is July not around the holidays) and said right now they are hiring seasonal but it may become permanent. On the application I said I was looking for full or part-time NOT temporary. I may have to take it though but I have a couple other job interviews this week as well. I was researching though and apparently now walmart is pretty much (other than management) ONLY hiring temporary positions. I understand during holidays and the like but this is getting ridiculous. I hate turning down a job because I DO need money but I never wanted to work at walmart to begin with. It was just a back up job. I've worked in management at other places so to be a temp associate just kind of erks me but I may have to take it.

ashley howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This was just like reading my own story except it was Lowes. Lowes did the same thing to me, they hired me on for 6 months but I hoped if I worked hard they would keep me. I worked my butt off, in 6 months I never called out and was ever late. Everyone told me I would be kept too, and they even scheduled me 2 weeks after my end date- only to tell me that it was a mistake and not to come back.