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The number of temporary positions is increasing, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2013. Employers like temp workers because they can bring them in short or long term without the need to offer benefits or the expectation of full-time employment. There's not a clearly defined duration for long-term temp jobs, but they can last from weeks to years.
What Are Temp Jobs?
Instead of being hired directly by the company that needs a new employee, as a temp worker, you're hired by a staffing firm. The company contracts with the staffing firm to provide someone with a certain skill set for a specified length of time, which might be from a few hours to several months or longer. There are many temporary job options, including administrative assistant, accountant, information technology and manufacturing. Your help might be needed to complete a project, fill in while a full-time employee is on maternity leave or as a long-term solution when a company is growing quickly and needs more staff.
When It's Long-Term
Short-term temp positions might last a day or a few days, sometimes up to a couple of weeks. When the position continues longer than about six weeks, it's typically considered long term. The employer contracts with the staffing agency for a certain number of temp hours or for a specific duration, but that contract can be extended as needed. Some positions might extend for a year or more.
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Some state laws, government agency regulations and corporate policies set limitations on the length of long-term temp positions. Many use a 1,000-hour guideline; if the temp employee works more than 1,000 hours in a 12-month period -- which equates to about 20 hours per week for the year -- he might be eligible for permanent employment or have access to certain company benefits such as a pension plan. Some employers use tighter time frame limitations, such as three or six months, to ensure no temp employee can take advantage of company benefits. These positions are still considered long-term temporary jobs.
Pros and Cons of Long-Term Temp Jobs
Temp work can help you bridge the gap when you're between jobs, offering you a paycheck while you look for the right permanent position. Taking a long-term temp job doesn't mean you must stay for the duration; temp jobs are typically considered at-will, which means you can leave the position or the employer can request a replacement at any time, for any reason. This gives you the flexibility to job hunt while working and quit if the right permanent position comes along. However, temp jobs rarely include benefits. This means you're on your own to find health insurance and contribute to a retirement plan, which can sometimes be difficult on the wages paid to temp workers. Permanent workers in the same jobs usually make significantly more than temp workers, in part because the staffing agencies take a portion of what the company pays for your work.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Current Employment Statistics Highlights
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- U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Temporary Employee Practices: How Long Does Temporary Last?
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- Purdue University: Guidelines for Temporary Positions Help Protect Staff
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