What is a Temp Job?

Many businesses find themselves in need of a temporary workforce, but hiring new employees for short-term projects can be costly. Fortunately, there are companies that specialize in providing temporary labor and staffing for businesses in this situation. Applicants who have registered with these temporary employment agencies may be called in to work a temp job, which is shorthand for “temporary employment.” Depending on the client’s needs, this type of job could last a few days, weeks, or months.

A temp job is typically a light-duty industrial or clerical position that is appropriate for entry-level employees. Because on-the-job training is often limited, temporary workers must be able to follow instructions and adapt to a variety of working environments. For example, a worker in a light industrial position might be required to operate a plastic injection mold one week and a drill press the next. Sorting mail one day and processing invoices the next could be part of a clerical job.

Almost all temporary workers are employed a professional job-staffing firm, not the clients. Companies pay a negotiated fee to the staffing firm for a specific number of temporary workers, and the firm pays the employees’ wages from that fee. Although many assignments become open-ended, each job is designed to have a clear beginning and end point. Some temporary employees may work at a company indefinitely as entry-level employees, but their paychecks will always come through the staffing agency.

There are a variety of reasons why someone would prefer to work on a temporary basis rather than on a permanent basis. Accepting a temporary position provides income without a difficult transition back to regular employment for many temporary workers who work full-time seasonal jobs that include several months of downtime, for example. Others may be pursuing careers where holding down a full-time “day job” would be difficult. Professional actors and other performers, for example, may require flexibility while auditioning for more consistent work in their fields.

A temp job can sometimes lead to a more permanent position, particularly if the client is looking to hire a new employee. However, converting a temporary position to a permanent one can be difficult. Permanent hires may be expressly prohibited in the temporary staffing agency-client agreement, or a significant fee may be required to release the employee from his or her contract with the staffing agency. This practice is intended to deter businesses from using temporary staffing firms to fill permanent positions.

A temp job rarely pays more than the state’s minimum wage, and it may or may not come with any benefits. Before a paycheck is issued, taxes and other deductions can be legally taken. Certain types of temp work, such as manual day labor, may be paid on a daily basis some agencies, while others process payroll checks weekly, biweekly, or monthly. A worker may be assigned to the same job for weeks in some cases, while others may be required to accept a series of one- or two-day assignments.

Many people who lose their jobs turn to temporary employment agencies for help, but the market can be volatile depending on the local economy. Some seasonal jobs are also temporary. Many entry-level and first-time workers may find that working a couple of temp jobs is a good way to get a feel for the job market before committing to a long-term position.