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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

View fom the Bench

Tuesday, May 1, 2001

When computer consultants employed by a staffing or consulting company are waiting to be assigned to a job at a client site for the first time, or are between jobs, they are considered on the bench. While benched, these consultants bring in no revenues, because they have no projects to work on. The consulting company (a.k.a. the employer) has to decide how it will compensate the consultants during that period — this is referred to as the bench policy. Technically, a consultant gets a full salary and uninterrupted benefits from his company during bench time and uses this time to upgrade or learn new technical skills to make himself more marketable.
Often, the reality of the situation is very different, especially for H-1B consultants. It is common for consultants to receive a stipend of only $900-$1500 per month with accommodations provided before they are placed on their first project. This is when they first arrive in the United States from their home country.

“Although it seems that the consultant is being underpaid, the reality is that a consulting firm is taking the maximum risk and has the highest cash outflow at this time,” explains Xavier Augustin, president of Y-Axis, the H-1B Company. “After having filed and paid for the consultant’s H-1B petition, a referral fee to the international vendor, relocation charges (sometimes of an entire family), marketing the consultant, and then lending a 45-60 day credit to the client, the total cash outflow is about $15,000,” says Augustin.

The second bench period between jobs is often jokingly referred to as the ‘beach period’ as most consultants with law-abiding consulting companies get their full salaries even though they are not actively working. But hundreds of computer consultants employed by unethical consulting companies are not paid their salaries, or are paid only half their salaries while they are benched. “That just never happens to US contractors and consultants.

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