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With nearly 14 million unemployed workers in America, many have gotten so desperate that they're willing to work for free. While some businesses are wary of the legal risks and supervision such an arrangement might require, companies that have used free workers say it can pay off when done right.
Remote Stylist公司是一家位于多伦多和纽约的初创公司,主要提供基于网络的室内设计服务。该公司的首席执行官凯丽?法利斯指出:“零薪酬的员工比拿薪水的员工更加卖力,因此他们的表现也会更好,他们也会尽量更讨人喜欢,尽量变得更有创造性。从节省成本的视角来看,这是一个很大的优势,尤其是如果你是小企业的话。”
"People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they're going to outperform, they're going to try to please, they're going to be creative," says Kelly Fallis, chief executive of Remote Stylist, a Toronto and New York-based startup that provides Web-based interior design services. "From a cost savings perspective, to get something off the ground, it's huge. Especially if you're a small business."
In the last three years, Fallis has used about 50 unpaid interns for duties in marketing, editorial, advertising, sales, account management and public relations. She's convinced it's the wave of the future in human resources. "Ten years from now, this is going to be the norm," she says.
Why do people work for free?
The benefit unpaid labor offers to a business is pretty clear, but it can also give employees needed experience, a reference letter or even a self-esteem boost in a depressing economy.
Cassie Johnson, a 27-year old in San Marcos, Calif., lost her job as an enrollment adviser for an online university in 2009 and was receiving unemployment benefits for a year before finding an assistant manager position at a Starbucks (SBUX) that's so far from her home she spends most of her pay on gas. Since starting a public relations internship in February, she feels a renewed sense of purpose.
"I'm learning a lot and I feel really good about it. I'm happy. I feel relevant. I'm not making any money, so it's tough, but I feel it's setting me up for a career," Johnson says. "I only have $1.50 left in my checking account right now but I'm living with my boyfriend and he's been really good about supporting me."
Sometimes, gratis work can even lead directly to a paid opportunity. Theresa Potter had been a marketing executive for 30 years when, during a career lull, she agreed to work on a few marketing initiatives for free at Coalescence, a Columbus, Ohio-based custom spice blending firm.
"You have amassed a lot of this information and you like to share it. You like to see companies become successful," Potter says.
Potter's year of volunteering at Coalescence paid off when the company's founders asked her to take the reins as president -- a salaried position. She felt comfortable taking the job because she'd become so familiar with the corporate culture and business goals.
But is it legal?
尽管许多雇主都希望使用免费劳力来达成他们的业务目标,但是在美国,从联邦法律到各州法律都严格规定,企业必须向员工支付最低薪水,如果加班的话,还要支付加班费。此外企业还需遵守《公平劳动标准法案》(Fair Labor Standards Act)的其它规定,该法案适用于730万家企业的1.35亿员工。不过《公平劳动标准法案》并不适用于年收入在50万美元以下的企业,除非他们从事跨州业务——所谓的跨州业务可能小到接受另一个州的信用卡,或者往另一个州打电话等。
Unfortunately for many employers hoping to use unpaid labor to advance their business goals, there are strict federal and state rules that workers must be paid the minimum wage and paid for overtime, and must abide by other provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to about 135 million people working for 7.3 million employers. The FLSA doesn't apply to companies with less than $500,000 in annual revenue unless they engage in interstate commerce -- which can be as little as accepting credit cards or placing phone calls to another state.
亚利桑那州菲尼克斯市博恩凯悟律师事务所(Bryan Cave)的合伙人、主攻劳工法的杰?茨威格表示:“在美国,我们没有一个让你可以零薪工作的体系,只有极少数的例外情况。一般情况下,如果你想使用零薪员工,总会有州法律介入,告诉你除非你满足某些特定标准,否则政府一定会找你的麻烦。”
"We don't have a system in this country where you can work for free," says Jay A. Zweig, a partner who works in employment law at Bryan Cave in Phoenix. "The exceptions are very, very rare, and generally there are state laws that would fill in to say that, unless you meet specific criteria, you're going to get in trouble with the government."
Unless someone is an intern, trainee or independent contractor, he or she has entered into an employment relationship when starting to work for a company. Federal and state authorities are alert for employers who may be taking advantage of the tight job market to skirt the rules.
The Labor Department has a strict six-point test to determine whether someone is an intern or trainee and separate guidelines for independent contractors. An internship must primarily benefit the intern, who must work under close supervision and not displace existing staff. Independent contractors cannot work under the control of the employer or be economically dependent on the firm.
美国劳工部(Labor Department)的一位发言人表示:“如果某人与一家公司构成了雇佣关系,公司就要为他的工作支付薪水。我们加强了执行力度,确保这些企业符合《公平劳动标准法案》的规定。我们已经额外招募了250名调查员。”
"If a person has entered into an employment relationship with a company, they need to be paid for their work," a U.S. Labor Department spokesperson says. "We stepped up enforcement to ensure these businesses are complying with FLSA. We've hired an additional 250 investigators."
亚特兰大专注于劳工法的Fisher & Phillips律师事务所合伙人约翰?汤普森表示,随着联邦的监管更加严格,像所谓的“观察期”和“试用期”等不付薪的工作安排,可能会比过去更难符合监管机构的要求。
With the additional federal scrutiny, unpaid arrangements such as auditions or tryouts are even less likely to pass muster than in the past, says John Thompson, a partner at employment law firm Fisher & Phillips in Atlanta.
"A lot of employers don't get that the law is not about personal responsibility or agreements between consenting adults; it's about getting the pay to people as the law requires," Thompson says.
Companies that are found violating the law will likely have to provide back pay, monetary penalties up to $1,100 per violation and damages that equal the amount of wages, Thompson says.
The challenges of hiring and managing modern day serfs
像其他使用了免费劳动力的雇主一样,Remote Stylist公司的凯丽?法利斯推荐企业首先制订一份非常详细的职务描述,然后进行一次彻底的招聘流程,将不愿意免费工作的人筛选出去。
Like others who have used unpaid labor, Remote Stylist's Kelly Fallis recommends beginning with a very specific job description and conducting a thorough hiring process to screen out people who aren't going to give their all for nothing.
Candidates who respond to Fallis' postings on Craigslist and Facebook must fill out a detailed email questionnaire and undergo two rounds of phone interviews and three in-person interviews.
而对于最终加盟Remote Stylist公司的人来说,不管他们是学生还是社会人士,不管他们是20出头还是30多岁,他们都必须接受四个月的试用期,并且签订一份雇佣合同。法利斯要求实习生每周工作30个小时。不过为了获得一份付薪工作,许多实习生都干得非常努力,给法利斯留下了很深的印象。
Those who join Remote Stylist, whether they are students or out-of-work 20- or 30-somethings, must agree to a four-month run and sign a hiring contract. She asks interns to commit 30 hours a week; she has been burned in the past by people who were trying to juggle a paid job with their commitment to Remote Stylist.
不管你信不信,有些零薪酬工作的竞争居然也非常激烈。例如Nomadic Nation是一家多媒体集资公司,这家公司为一个从德国驾驶塑料汽车到哥伦比亚的项目做了招聘广告,仅过了一个星期,该公司的执行董事约翰?洛夫乔伊就收到了300份编辑职务的申请,另有700人申请这个项目的摄像师一职。这些职务不仅没有薪水,应聘成功者还需支付自己的所有开销。
Believe it or not, the competition for some unpaid gigs can grow intense. John Lovejoy, managing director of multimedia fundraising company Nomadic Nation, received 300 responses for an editor position and 700 cameraman applications after only one week of advertising a project to drive from Germany to Cambodia in plastic cars. Not only were the positions unpaid, but successful candidates had to pay their own expenses.
One editor and two cameramen ended up quitting before the end of the trek due to rough conditions and 16-hour workdays. In retrospect, Lovejoy says, "I would screen a little bit better and make sure they understood that this wasn't a vacation."
Your Social Butterfly公司是一家位于佛罗里达州塔拉哈西市的活动策划公司。由于有些免费员工没有认真履行他们的职责,因此他们的工作效果也良莠不齐。有时候免费员工做错了事,该公司的老板克莉斯托?格林还得重新为他们收拾烂摊子,并且向被得罪的业务伙伴道歉。
Crystal Green, owner of Tallahassee-based event planning firm Your Social Butterfly, has had mixed results with unpaid staffers who didn't take their responsibilities seriously. She's even had to retrace the missteps of unpaid staffers and apologize to alienated business partners.
"It's really hard as a single entrepreneur to babysit these people who need to learn. They're not making any money, so you have to be very patient," Green says.
None of these employers said they were concerned that they were violating the law -- whether or not they actually are -- but most get what they pay for, raising the question of whether they'd be better off just going with the time-honored tradition of paying employees.
"It's better to have one decently paid person than nine unpaid people who are making it so difficult because they're slacking off or they're difficult to manage," Green says.
2011-04-02 14:31 编辑:kuaileyingyu