Temporary work
Temporary work or temporary employment refers to a situation where the employee is expected to leave the employer within a certain period of time. Temporary employees are sometimes called "contractual", "seasonal", "interim", "casual staff", "freelance", or "part-time"; or the word may be shortened to "temps." Agricultural workers are often temporarily employed for harvesting. In some instances, temporary professional employees (particularly in the white collar fields, such as law, engineering, and accounting) even refer to themselves as "consultants." This is not to be confused with consultants (as in management consulting
Management consulting
Management consulting indicates both the industry and practice of helping organizations improve their performance primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and development of plans for improvement....


Temporary workers may work full-time or part-time, depending on the individual case. In some instances, they are given benefits (such as health insurance
Health insurance
Health insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals. By estimating the overall risk of health care expenses among a targeted group, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to ensure that money is...

), but usually the best treatment is reserved for the permanent employees
Permanent Employment
Permanent employees or regular employees work for a single employer and are paid directly by that employer. In addition to their wages, they often receive benefits like subsidized health care, paid vacations, holidays, sick time, or contributions to a retirement plan. Permanent employees are often...

. Not all temporary employees find jobs through a temporary Employment agency
Employment agency
An employment agency is an organization which matches employers to employees. In all developed countries there is a publicly funded employment agency and multiple private businesses which also act as employment agencies.-Public employment agencies:...

. For example, a person can simply apply at a local park for seasonal jobs.

A temporary work agency
Employment agency
An employment agency is an organization which matches employers to employees. In all developed countries there is a publicly funded employment agency and multiple private businesses which also act as employment agencies.-Public employment agencies:...

, or temp agency or temporary staffing firm finds and retains workers. Other companies, in need of short-term workers, contract with the temp agency to send temporary workers, or temps, on assignment to work at the other companies. Temporary employees are also used in work that has a cyclical nature that requires frequent adjustment of staffing levels.

Temporary work agencies

A temporary work agency may be distinct from a recruitment firm, which seeks to place permanent employees, but there is often a large overlap: a permanent employee may start out as a "try-before-you-buy" trial temporary worker.

Many temporary work agencies specialize in a particular profession or field of business, such as general industrial labor, accounting, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, technical
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 or secretarial
A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit...

. Some even "specialize" in odd-jobs. Because of the added level of communication between the employer (worksite) and the temporary work agency and then finally to the agency's employee these short-term roles can be miscommunicated and canceled on a whim. The employer (worksite) is paying for a service and can decide to stop that service (labor/skills) at any time.

A temporary work agency may have a standard set of tests to judge the competence of the secretarial or clerical skills of an applicant. An applicant is hired based on their scores on these tests, and is placed into a database. Companies or individuals looking to hire someone temporarily contact the agency and describe the skill set they are seeking. A temporary employee is then found in the database and is contacted to see if they would be interested in taking the assignment.

When a temporary employee agrees to an assignment, they receive instructions pertaining to the job. The Agency also provides information on correct work attire, work hours, wages, and whom to report to. If a temporary employee arrives at a job assignment and is asked to perform duties not described when they accepted the job, they may call an agency representative for clarification. If they choose not to continue on the assignment based on these discrepancies, they will most likely lose pay and may undermine chances at other job opportunities. However, some agencies guarantee an employee a certain number of hours pay if, once the temporary employee arrives, there is no work or the work isn't as described. Most agencies do not require an employee to continue work if the discrepancies are enough to make it difficult for the employee to actually do the work.

It is up to the temporary employee to keep in constant contact with the agency when not currently working on an assignment; by letting the agency know that they are available to work they are given priority over those who may be in the agency database who have not made it clear that they are ready and willing to take an assignment. A temporary work agency employee is the exclusive employee of the agency, not of the company in which they are placed (although subject to legal dispute). The temporary employee is bound by the rules and regulations of their direct employer, even if they contrast with those of the company in which they are placed. For example, if a temporary employee is asked by the company in which they are placed to lift a heavy box, they may respond "I am sorry, my agency does not allow me to perform that task. I wish I could help. Please feel free to contact my supervisor there for more information."

Temporary employees are in a constant state of employment flux because they are never guaranteed consistent employment, nor are they assured of a solid start or finish date for their assignment. A temporary employee's assignment can be ended at any time, even in the middle of its projected time frame, without explanation. This causes potential turbulence in cases of discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

, which is usually handled internally between the employee and the agency.


The classic permatemp situation results when a worker classified as temporary works alongside regular employees doing similar work for a long period. By claiming that the employee is only temporary, the worksite company avoids paying for benefits and employer taxes. Benefits and taxes, such as social security, typically are 33% of the employee's pay. For example, if you made 30k per year as a permanent employee (aka with benefits), approximately 10k would be paid for your health insurance, retirement, employer payroll taxes, etc. (in some states sales tax is even paid by the worksite, as the temporary employee's "labor" is considered a sold good). Typically at least that 10k is paid to the temporary agency, who provides little to no benefits to their employee. The worksite company also tangentially benefits because it has no responsibility to the employee — permatemp employees can be fired
Termination of employment
-Involuntary termination:Involuntary termination is the employee's departure at the hands of the employer. There are two basic types of involuntary termination, known often as being "fired" and "laid off." To be fired, as opposed to being laid off, is generally thought of to be the employee's...

 or laid off at any time, as they have no career service protection or seniority. Temporary employees are often ineligible to apply for jobs open to regular employees.

Pros and cons

Advantages to those seeking employment from a temp agency are:
  • Easy hire: Those meeting technical requirements for the type of work are often virtually guaranteed a job without a selection process.
  • Flexible hours; a choice of which shifts to work; the ability to take off for weekends, holidays, vacations, personal appointments, or for any other reason of choice, or to work on such days for additional pay
  • Pay rates are sometimes higher than the customary wages in a comparable permanent position.
  • The likelihood of getting fired is lower than in a permanent position, though a client of the agency can make a request for the temporary worker not to return, even for a minor infraction. Many agencies, such as OfficeTeam have three-strike polices in this regard.

Drawbacks to temp agencies are as follows:
  • In the United States a benefits package is limited to medical insurance as mandated by law, a few reputable agencies offer additional benefits (vision, dental, life, 401k, etc)to the temporary associates that they place.
  • Temp to hire positions have been known to have high turn over rates.

In some temp agencies, workers are considered self-employed independent contractor
Independent contractor
An independent contractor is a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor does not work regularly for an employer but works as and when...

s, who have a status similar to those running their own businesses.
  • Reduced liability protection: With independent contractor status, contractors are required to carry liability insurance
    Liability insurance
    Liability insurance is a part of the general insurance system of risk financing to protect the purchaser from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims. It protects the insured in the event he or she is sued for claims that come within the coverage of the insurance policy...

     or else can be held accountable in a negligence
    Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.According to Jay M...

    A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

     when an error results in damage. This practice is highly suspect and is likely evidence of a scam.
  • Lack of reference: Many employers of experienced job positions do not consider work done for a temporary agency as sufficient on a resume.

Legal issues

Less reputable Temp agencies have been involved in some legal controversies, often pertaining to the trust of workers who have been screened little if at all for a position requiring high security clearance.

In the 1990s under the socialist government in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, temporary work was outlawed as an incursion on worker's rights.

See also

  • Contingent work
    Contingent work
    Contingent work, also sometimes known as casual work, is a neologism which describes a type of employment relationship between an employer and employee...

  • Contract attorney
    Contract attorney
    A contract attorney works on legal cases on a contract basis. Such work is generally of a temporary nature, often with no guaranteed employment term.A contract attorney is-Civil litigation:...

  • Day labor
    Day labor
    Day labor is work done where the worker is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise that more work will be available in the future. It is a form of contingent work.-Types:Day laborers find work through three common routes....

  • Employment agency
    Employment agency
    An employment agency is an organization which matches employers to employees. In all developed countries there is a publicly funded employment agency and multiple private businesses which also act as employment agencies.-Public employment agencies:...

  • Employment scams
    Employment scams
    Employment scams, also known as job scams, are a form of advance fee fraud scamming where certain unscrupulous persons posing as recruiters or employers offer attractive employment opportunities which require the job seeker to pay them money in advance, usually under the guise of work visas, travel...

  • Gangmaster
  • Human resources
    Human resources
    Human resources is a term used to describe the individuals who make up the workforce of an organization, although it is also applied in labor economics to, for example, business sectors or even whole nations...

  • Interim
    Interim is an album by British rock band The Fall, compiled from live and studio material and released in 2004. It features the first officially released versions of "Clasp Hands", "Blindness" and "What About Us?" — all of which were later included on the band's next studio album Fall Heads Roll —...

  • Labour hire
    Labour hire
    Labour hire is the term applied to provision of outsourced skilled and unskilled blue-collar workers hired for short- or long-term positions....

  • Labour market flexibility
    Labour market flexibility
    Labour market flexibility refers to the speed with which labour markets adapt to fluctuations and changes in society, the economy or production.-Definition:In the past, the most common definition of labour market flexibility was the neo-liberal definition...

  • Layoff
    Layoff , also called redundancy in the UK, is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or a group of employees for business reasons, such as when certain positions are no longer necessary or when a business slow-down occurs...

  • Outsourcing
    Outsourcing is the process of contracting a business function to someone else.-Overview:The term outsourcing is used inconsistently but usually involves the contracting out of a business function - commonly one previously performed in-house - to an external provider...

  • Part-time
  • Professional employer organization
    Professional employer organization
    A professional employer organization is a single source provider of integrated services which enable business owners to cost-effectively outsource the management of human resources, employee benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation and other strategic services, such as recruiting, risk/safety...

  • Recruitment
    Recruitment refers to the process of attracting, screening, and selecting qualified people for a job. For some components of the recruitment process, mid- and large-size organizations often retain professional recruiters or outsource some of the process to recruitment agencies.The recruitment...

  • Social network
    Social network
    A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

  • Substitute teacher
    Substitute teacher
    A substitute teacher is a person who teaches a school class when the regular teacher is unavailable; e.g., because of illness, personal leave, or other reasons. "Substitute teacher" is the most commonly used phrase in the United States, Canada and Ireland, while supply teacher is the most commonly...

  • UK agency worker law
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