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Job Seekers Guide to Temp Work

What Is Temp Work?

Temporary work (or colloquially temp work) is when an employee has a contract for a set length of time at an organization. This can span anywhere from a couple of days to a few months to beyond a year. It differs from a permanent position as that is an indefinite placement (or until one or both parties decide to end the term). Temp work can either be part or full-time, but the duration is defined within the contract. Temp positions are often filled by a third-party who is tasked with finding the most appropriate candidate for the role. Depending on the arrangement with the client company, the temporary workers may actually be hired by the third-party and then outsourced to the client company.

The Rise of Temp Workers

Temporary work is increasing more so now than ever before in Canada. Even before COVID had caused so many shutdowns throughout the country, we were seeing a strong spike in companies utilizing these employees. According to Statistics Canada, there has been a 50% rise in this type of employment over the last 20 years. Permanent workers have historically seen a higher pay increase over those on contract, but the gap is closing year over year due to more of a focus on contract work. Many who utilize this type of work are younger workers as they tend to struggle to find full-time employment, but they also receive the benefit of demonstrating the breadth of their professional skill set over a shorter period of time. In the wake of the pandemic, it is exceedingly likely that the trend of temporary workers will only increase as employers are looking to reduce the risk of having so much staff on board at such an unstable time.

Why Hire Temp Workers?

There are many benefits to hiring temporary workers over permanent workers for a business. If you have someone on maternity or sick leave or have seasonal increases in demand, it can be advantageous to have someone to cover for that period of time. Often the employees are technically under the employment of the firm that procured them over the company they work with. This is beneficial if there is any concern for payroll in terms of a maximum headcount; which in turn leads to a higher level of production without the stress. Having new people on board will bring with it the potential exposure to new expertise, and different points of view that have yet to be thought of for the company. The paperwork is handled by the recruitment agency so if the employer has determined that they want the relationship to end there is no additional work on behalf of the company. This in turn can also help save on costs when staffing changes need to be made and in doing so allow you to source strong hires that you would want to keep on the team and perhaps even transition to a permanent role.

Why Work as a Temp?

Temp work is beneficial to employees as well. Many professionals don't like the concept of working at a placement for only a few months, but it can be an advantageous experience. This is a good way to attain new skills and work experience in a very quick span of time. Having such an expansive set of skills is an attractive asset in the increasingly competitive job market. This is also a great way to build your network for future job prospects, as clients may need someone with your burgeoning skill set to fulfill a role in the future. You can also have a strong number of references to aid you in finding future placements. There is so much you can gain and learn that will help prepare you for future endeavours. Employers can easily get the sense that you are reliable, adaptable, and can see firsthand how you would fit in with their organizational culture. These are attributes that cannot easily be displayed on a resume and they can help land you a permanent role in the future.

Hiring Managers: How to Find the Right Recruitment Agency

Not every recruitment agency is going to be right for every employer – you will have to do your research before contracting their work. You should have a list of questions prepared to ask the agency including how long it typically takes them to fill the kind of temp position you are looking to hire. You want to ensure that the agency has experience finding short term talent in your industry and that their temps score high on the reliability scale. Look into their track record and ask to speak to references to see if they have the capability and experience to fulfill your needs as an employer. You also want to make sure that you are satisfied with their communication and responsiveness.

Temp Candidates: How to Find the Right Recruitment Agency

Not every agency is the right fit for every candidate either. Ensure that you utilize a reputable agency – one that is easy to reach and has an online presence. The company should provide you with all the necessary information, ideally in the form of a contract, prior to your first day. Hours of work, work location, compensation, and responsibilities are some of the mandatory details that should be provided to you in writing. Companies should refrain from asking for sensitive direct deposit/bank information until a contract has been signed. For the highest chance of success, ensure that you use an agency who work with client companies in the industry that you are trying to secure work in.

The Dos and Don’ts of Temp Work

As a temporary worker, maintaining consistent communication with the recruiter demonstrates that you are committed to pursuing a strong relationship. This can lead to them continuing to recommend you for opportunities in the future. Some recruitment agencies offer programs or training that can prepare you for getting into the workforce or give you a refresher if you feel that you aren't fully equipped to handle the position yet. When you are on a placement, you want to ensure you are making the best impression and that you present yourself professionally. This will allow you to be a strong representation of not only what the firm has to offer but also what you are like as an employee. Demonstrate your initiative, your work ethic and how you would be an asset to the client company. Keep in mind that your performance during a temporary role may cause the client company to want to hire you for a permanent position. Don't lie about your credentials or experience as not being able to deliver on assigned tasks will diminish your chances of further employment with that particular recruitment agency and the client companies associated with them. Don't take on the placement unless you plan on maintaining it for the duration of the contract. If you do have to end your contract early, make sure you do so in a professional manner including providing as much notice as possible.

In our experience, our firm has seen some rather ridiculous displays of temporary workers ending a contract in an unprofessional manner. We’ve had employees just not show up anymore, call in 5 minutes before their shift was about to start to say they weren’t going to come in, and one time we even had someone fake their own death only to reapply for another position the following year. Needless to say, we will not be contacting that last candidate for any future opportunities. Employees should treat a temp job like any other position. A good rule of thumb is to treat every job like your future employer will know about it. Recruitment agencies, as well as client companies, keep track of your record with them including how you conducted yourself, client feedback, how/why the employment relationship ended etc. These records will inform future hiring decisions for both the agency and the client company, so you want to ensure you are not ruling yourself out from potential opportunities in the future.

How Are Temp Workers Protected?

There are policies put into play to ensure that temp workers aren't taken advantage of. The Employment Standards Act applies to most workers including those a contract or temporary placement. It dictates things like how workers will be compensated for the work they have completed and what length of notice of termination someone is entitled to. The document “Your Employment Standards Rights – Temporary Help Agency Assignment Employees” by the Ministry of Labour is a great resource that gives an overview of your rights under the ESA as a temp worker. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workplace Safety Insurance Act, and the Ontario Human Rights Code also apply to temporary workers to ensure that working conditions are safe for everyone. Often temporary placements also count towards determining if a worker is eligible for Employment Insurance as well.

What Should Temp Workers Do to Protect Themselves?

It's unlikely that any employer will intentionally mishandle an employee’s earnings, but as with any position, it is best to keep track of your hours worked and wages accrued yourself. Then if you notice any discrepancies, you are able to address them with your employer. Workers should keep a copy of all contracts in case a dispute arises. Holding onto copies of your Record of Employment, doctor's notes, termination papers or any other hard copy forms is important in the case one needs to apply for Employment Insurance or submit anything to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

In Conclusion

Temporary work has a lot of advantages, especially for young professionals or those seeking work during the time of this pandemic. If you understand your rights you will keep yourself from being taken advantage of, in the unlikely chance this occurs. If you are looking for work or want to try a new industry, now is the best time to get the aid of a recruitment agency. Job hunting can be really stressful (especially during COVID) but utilizing a recruitment agency can greatly ease that tension.


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