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Temping pros and cons: Could it solve your financial problems

Updated on November 29, 2014

Current economic downturn

As England embraces its economic downturn many individuals are finding that job security is becoming a thing of the past. In fact many people have already suffered reduced working hours, a salary reduction or redundancy. Any of these can be very frightening if you have a young family, a mortgage or if your income is already stretched.

If you are unfortunate enough to be out off work finding new employment can be nigh on impossible. Of course much of this depends where you live and search for work. It does also depend what specific requirements new employers may want and what are the minimum terms of employment you are prepared to accept.

Many people feel that taking temporary work is just too chancy however it does not have to be in this day and age.

Points to consider

  • If you are receiving any benefits such as working tax credit or income support you will need to assess whether or not it is worth taking on a temporary job. This may sound wrong but it is sensible advice. In order to receive working tax credit you will have to work a minimum number of hours. Income Support will allow you to earn a small amount of money but it is small. The problem could be that if you take a temporary job you may end up out of pocke,t in the long run. This could be because you have a waiting period for a new benefit claim when the job finishes. In assessing if the temporary work is right for you consider all aspects.
  • Make sure that you only work for a reputable employment agency. There are many around these days but there are also some that will mess you about. You could find that you have an odd days work here and there and are unable to plan anything, especially financially.
  • With the minimum wage currently in force in the UK any employer must pay at least just that, the minimum wage.This does depend on your age but employers have a legal right to abide by the rules.
  • Never compromise your Health and Safety. It can be so easy to accept any old job when you are desperate for work. If your gut instinct tells you that the offer of a job is unsafe or may be detrimental to your health then refuse and carry on searching.
  • In some cases there will be a limit on how long you can take a temporary role for. Often, if the same job is held in a years time, it may become a permanent position. However this is usually not the case when you work as a temp for an agency. You will need to check out the details of any temporary work offered just to be sure though.

Seeing the funnny side of temping

Can be so true.
Can be so true.

General Advice

Having worked briefly as a temp for Brooke Street way back in the 1970s and, more recently, for Hay's Accountancy here is a little advice, based on my experiences.

  • Research the Agencies who employ temporary workers. Check out the Internet, local libraries and your local high street. The Internet has made it easier to search for, register with, and check out, such agencies online.
  • Some agencies specialise in manual work whilst others may specialise in office jobs. Only you know what would be most suitable for you and which you are capable of doing.
  • Decide if temping is something which you are looking at as casual work or a more permanent option. Most temping agencies have a whole host of regular temps on their books who work to suit themselves. These temps usually work hours that will fit around other commitments such as family and children.
  • If you would like to secure employment permanently with a particular company temping can give you a foot in the door. For example in my City the NHS and Local Government take use temporary workers most of the time. However these temps are able to apply for any permanent jobs that come up within the business. Often, especially if they have been working in the role already as a temp, the temporary worker will be the successful applicant at interview.


What to expect when temping.

A lot depends on the agency, where you are actually working and the contract you have accepted. Here is what I discovered:-

  • When you contact an agency offering temporary work you will usually be asked in for an interview.
  • If it is for an office job you may be asked to sit a typing test. Such tests should be explained to you when the interview is being made and are nothing to worry about. They are simply a way of assessing your capabilities.
  • Take with you an up to date CV or Resume, copies of any qualifications that you possess, your passport and two documents such as a driving licence and a telephone bill. The latter is in order to confirm your address. With problems such as identity theft and money laundering rife agencies need to know exactly who you are. However as these documents could compromise you identity be careful who you hand them over to and for how long.
  • The interview will usually require you to complete a standard application form first.
  • The interview may be held by two people and it will be aimed at finding the right work for you. If for instance you have long term aspirations to work for the NHS tell the interviewer.
  • If you have specific requirements such as only working certain days or within particular time periods be honest. It will save everybody a lot of wasted time.
  • If you are accepted you may just be placed on the agency's books until suitable work is available.
  • However if a suitable position is available you will probably be given a date, time and place to start your temporary work.
  • Most agencies have welcome pack which should include holiday and pay details, time sheets and general information.
  • On the whole agencies pay their staff weekly. This means that either you or the employer will not necessarily have to give long notice. However make sure that you understand the company's rules.
  • When I first temped a couple of years ago I did not receive any paid holidays. However I did receive an increased salary which was to compensate for this. With current EEC regulations this has changed. The hourly rate has decreased but the temp agencies must now pay at least 4 weeks paid annual leave.
  • If leave is not taken whilst you are employed by the agency your final salary will include an appropriate payment.
  • I had to ensure that I completed a time sheet each week which was then signed by my line manager. This then had to be faxed and posted into the agency by a particular date and time. The onus is on YOU to get this completed, signed and sent off.
  • Although initially you may be told the temporary contract is for say 2 months it could end in less time or last much longer. If you are no happy in the role you can to be moved elsewhere. Similarly though the employer can request a different worker if he or she is unsatisfied with your performance.

What not to stand for

Hopefully a rare occurrence
Hopefully a rare occurrence

My experiences

For me temping was a positive experience. All in all I guess I only temped for about 6 months or so.

My husband temped a while ago and had a less positive experience. He was constantly getting swapped about and the one contract where he loved the work was unpredictable. With a team of temps and only one or two permanent staff the company would lay temps off constantly in order to balance the books. This can be a problem. Unscrupulous firms may take on temporary staff rather than permanent staff for which they have more responsibility. It can be a way of saving money and shirking responsibility. However when you consider the fee that companies pay to temping agencies for staff it is quite expensive. On top of the workers pay there will be a heft agency fee payable also.

Much will depend on you, what you want from temping, your skills and what is available where you live. Now that jobs are getting scarce agencies often have a glut of workers. However by registering with all the reputable agencies around you should find some work. Whether it is right for you will of course depend on many factors.

Despite my husband being messed about somewhat temping was a good move for him at the time. Ill health had left him unemployed and being in his early fifties finding work was not easy. We have no children and so in no time at all he was not entitled to any benefits as I worked. This meant that even though his work was a little hit and miss he was always better off financially. After all without this temporary work he had no income. Plus he did find permanent work in the end.

Finally looking for work when you are already working is always easier, even if the job is only temporary. It shows prospective employers that you were not prepared to just sit on your backside and accept state benefits and occasionally it may even enhance your skills and improve your CV.


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    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      It is jim. Yes it is important to return your timsheet properly completed and signed. I used to always keep a copy also.

    • jimmylesaint profile image

      jimmylesaint 6 years ago from Metropolis of Life

      Nice article Ethel. If i may add TIMESHEETS must be filled in, signed and sent back to the agency. That is the evidence that gets you paid on time with no hassles.

      Great cartoons the stress one is very fitting for the current climate:)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      THanks UK. I approved your link as it may be useful to those looking for work

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Habee. A temp's working life can be hard

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Great tips, and I LOVED the cartoons!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks so much notorious. Do you mean my temp work though or my hubs? :)

    • profile image

      notorious_HAI 8 years ago

      love your work Ethel.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Yes I quite agree. It can also help you decide what work you want to do permanently.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 8 years ago from Sydney

      I also temped in the 70s and 80s because my husband was moving a lot with his studies and then his work.  My tip - be flexible.   I never knocked back a job, even if it was only for a day or two.  The agency will appreciate that (it can be hard to get people to do the little jobs), so your name will stick in the consultant's mind when that plum assignment comes up. 

      That strategy certainly worked for me - I usually found that I spent the first few weeks in a new city doing "a day here and there", but would then be offered a long-term contract somewhere.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Very informative hub and I love the cartoons!