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'Just' a Temp? The Unjustified Stigma of Temp Work

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by Mark Smith

almost 3 years ago

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Just. It's a word used to convey a meaning not totally acknowledged. In a recruitment consultancy, we often hear it used by job seekers who describe themselves by saying, 'I was just a temp.' If you take a look at the dictionary, the meaning that is trying to be expressed is more like, 'I was only a temp,' or, 'I was merely a temp.' What is implied in these statements is the value placed on temporary work or people working on a temporary basis is not as highly valued as those working in a permanent position. I am dismayed by this form of logic and thought I would write a note on why temporary work and those who undertake it should take more pride in working in an assignment. 

To use an old cliché, 'Variety is the spice of life,' and undertaking temporary work gives individuals the opportunity to explore new environments, industries and tasks. Don't envy the permanent employee who is shackled to the same system, the same tasks and the same water cooler conversation every day! 

'Just' a Temp? The Unjustified Stigma of Temp Work

Being flexible is a two way street. Just as employers have the opportunity to bring on staff when the need arises, so, too, temporary employees have the flexibility to take extended leave or breaks that work best for their lifestyle. A good example of this is a long standing temp of people2people who is also a professional photographer. She works with celebrities and corporate groups and also has periods of time where she likes to supplement her income through short term temporary assignments. She gets the best of both worlds: work when she needs it while pursuing her passion for photography. As a temporary member of staff, you also get paid hourly. This is a double edged sword. 

Sure, you do not get any entitlements (although rates do include a 25% loading above the award to accommodate this), but you get paid for every hour that you work. If you work until midnight as an accountant at year end, then you will be paid for the hours you are working. I know that many qualified accountants working permanently work inordinately long hours at peak times, such as year end, without being paid an additional amount for such work. As a temporary member of staff, you are paid for every hour that you work. So there are 'just' three reasons why undertaking temp work and working on a temporary basis is more than 'just' a job. There are real advantages for everyone. Similarly, temporary work is also not for everyone, so please don't judge yourself or others undertaking and enjoying the flexibility of temporary work.

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