Blog 10.12.2020

Employee outsourcing and OHS

Employee outsourcing is becoming more and more popular among entrepreneurs, who have become convinced of the wide range of benefits resulting from trilateral cooperation between the company, the agency and the employee. Those for whom outsourcing is still a novelty often ask who is responsible for health and safety in this type of a contract. It turns out that the answer is not clear at all.

The employer is responsible for health and safety at work

For every entrepreneur, it is obvious that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide occupational health and safety training and instruction. As it is the agency that acts as the formal employer, it is also its duty to ensure that employees receive appropriate initial training. It is also the agency that has to send its outsourced staff for medical examinations. So this means that the entrepreneur is relieved from all these duties, but… not exactly.

The agreement is what matters

We need to stop here for a moment. It is the provisions of the agreement between the company and the agency that regulate the rest of the responsibilities in the scope of health and safety. The contents of such agreements differ, primarily due to the fact that every workplace is different, and especially in the case of larger companies each job additionally comes with its own health and safety supervision duties and newly outsourced employees have to fulfil them as well. Therefore, before signing the agreement, the parties agree on the extent to which OHS tasks are to be performed by the individual parties, which does not, however, release the employer (and therefore the agency) from responsibility for all OHS activities.

Health and Safety Coordinator

Basically, every large company has its own set of work rules and regulations set by the health and safety department. It is often necessary to identify the person to be contractually responsible for ensuring that work is done in accordance with health and safety principles. Most often, this role is performed by an OHS officer on behalf of the company due to their constant presence in the workplace and knowledge of the procedures in force. Their role is to supervise health and safety at work with regard to both the company’s own employees as well as those acquired through outsourcing. In any case, the responsibilities of each party and of the designated coordinator, if any, must also be clearly defined in the cooperation agreement.

A relief for the employer

Regardless of the final arrangements, in case of staff outsourcing the entrepreneur does not have to worry about a whole range of obligations that apply to the employer, since the actual employer is the agency in this tripartite contract. Apart from health and safety at work and preliminary medical examinations, it is most often the agency that is responsible for equipping employees with work clothes (unless the parties agree otherwise), and it is certainly the agency that is responsible for all issues related to the recruitment and employment of staff, significantly relieving the company’s HR department. Moreover, the main advantage of establishing cooperation in the scope of employee outsourcing is precisely the flexibility of the contract terms, which is of great importance in times of crisis.

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