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Legal Update

One Servant, Two Masters, Same Service?

20 August 2014
Mayer Brown JSM Legal Update

According to the results of a recent survey1, Hong Kong tops the poll on places that are using contingent workers in 2014, followed closely by the United States. Contingent workers could be temporary employees, secondees and outsourced workers, employed or supplied by companies to work for either a single client or multiple and changing clients. Generally, they are engaged on a temporary or project basis to fill gaps without adding to the permanent headcount of the end-user company.

Traditionally, contingent staffing covers industries and job functions such as IT contracting, events staffing, construction as well as secretarial and administrative support. However, this is rapidly expanding to cover a wider spectrum of industries, including financial services, legal services and energy.

There are obvious legal risks stemming from the use of this type of work arrangement, particularly when engaging professionals on a contingent basis. However, the key is to identify and manage the risks.

In this legal update, we revisit the judgment of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in the case of Chung Yuen Yee v. Sam Woo Bore Pile Foundation Limited and consider the risks associated with contingency staffing.

1 The survey was conducted by the Manpower Group, and the results of the survey were released in July 2014.

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