At the outset, let me state a couple of things I have always taken as absolute truths in the employer/employee relationship. 

The first is this: Employees are a necessary evil. The second is this: Employers need to make a profit on every employee. Now, some of you may be alarmed by these statements, but they are absolutely true.

The way we sum them up in my place of work is this – everyone’s job is to “spin the invoice printer.” In other words, if you don’t have some link to bringing in income for the organization, you are not needed (however, it could be your job is to do something, such as cleaning the facility, so those tightly tied to the invoice printer can maximize their time “spinnin’ the invoice printer”).

Back to my first two statements one more time. Don’t you think if your employer could bring in as much income to his or her enterprise without you as they do with you, they would do so? That makes you a necessary evil (and this is why robots are such a threat – they don’t tire, they don’t sue and they can do repetitive jobs without fail).

Secondly, if the employer only breaks even or worse – loses money – on having you around, why would they do so? You simply have to make them a profit.

Some folks could get all wrapped up in these matters, and think I am being cruel or heartless. Others can think a company with this attitude is not being socially responsible.

News flash: Companies are in business to make money; hopefully, while operating in a legal, moral and ethical behavior. However, they do not have a social responsibility beyond this.

Hang on, however, because you may be surprised where I end up this week.

Now, we get to the purpose of this column. The above just set the stage.

I recently became aware of a new trend. Some smallish companies which have a holding company as a parent organization and multiple – yet, distinct – companies beneath that holding company, have found a new trick. They are forming a new, separate company (owned by the holding company) which does nothing but hire all the employees in all the subsidiaries and lease them out to the subsidiaries.

The official reason to do this is to pool all employees so allegedly they can get better deals on health insurance, 401K administrative fees and so forth.

The theory behind this being a bigger pool has more buying clout. The other official reason is that perhaps one organization needs a certain kind of talent, perhaps only half-time, and a sister organization has the same need – a part-time specialist in whatever that specialty may be. This will help the budget of both organizations.

Old Jim smells a rat.

Keep in mind that I am not a human resource specialist, an employment lawyer or any such professional in these fields. I am just relying on my 47-plus years of experience in business to promulgate the following observations.

It looks to me like this setup will make it much easier to rid the organization of people no longer wanted. These folks could be people that are chronically ill, have other problems or are just plain old. The way this is done is the organization leasing the person returns the employee to the organization where the person is actually employed. That organization has no work per se, it is in the business of leasing employees out to sister organizations.

So, the employee returns to home base, where home base says, “Sorry, no one wants you, time for you to go home.”

Or another scenario unfolds: The employee returns to home base, home base says, “Organization A no longer wants you, but we can place you with organization B at a 30-percent reduction in salary. They would really be interested in you at that rate.”

What are you going to do?

This just may be the kind of problem I could get behind legislation to fix, or if that doesn’t work, I say, look for the union label. I firmly believe employers have to be given as unfettered an environment as possible in order to operate.

However, there are times when a line must be drawn – and this may be one of them.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.