Career Advice

Top Tips for Temp Workers; The Rules and Benefits of Temporary Work

People2people NZ Posted by People2people
min read

Temp work is vastly different from being a permanent employee of an organisation. While you are performing work which is similar to that of a permanent employee, as a temp worker you have different rights and responsibilities to them.

What is the Definition of ‘Temporary’?

There is no set definition of temporary when it comes to working. Australia operates on the ‘award’ system, with each award having its own definition of what it means to be casual. This lack of a consistent definition presents a challenge for employers and employees alike. For example, the definition for Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010, defines a casual employee as “an employee engaged as such”. This definition presents problems because it doesn’t define what is meant by ‘casual’. We’ll make things easier though. Here is what a temporary employee should define casual work as;

  • A work assignment for a set amount of time OR to complete specific tasks
    • Example 1; A hiring manager contacts people2people because they need a receptionist to cover their permanent employee while they are sick. This engagement will last for between three and five days and is an example of being hired for a specific amount of time.
    • Example 2; A hiring manager contacts people2people to hire someone who has specialist knowledge to implement their new accounting system. This is an example of being hired for a specific task.
  • A role where there is an hourly, daily, or weekly rate of pay.

There will, of course, be some variations that don’t perfectly fit these definitions. Overall though, a casual/temporary position is one that is intended to last for a limited amount of time, or be undertaken for a specific reason.


Ending Casual Employment

There are many awards without a clear definition of what notice an employer needs to provide a temporary employee and, vice-versa, what notice a temporary worker has to give their on hire employer/recruiter. This means that there can be a lot of confusion for both parties involved. No matter the lack of definition though, there are some basic business guidelines that should be followed;

  • Remember that a temporary role is one where you are employed for a limited amount of time or for some specific purpose
  • Employers are able to cancel the casual employment whenever they want due to the ‘casual’ nature of it. If circumstances change, the requirements for the role change, or you clearly don’t have the necessary skills and/or experience needed to complete the required task in the designated timeframe, then an employer can terminate the assignment immediately. Of course, you are still entitled for payment for the work you have completed up to that point.
  • Casual/temporary employees also have the right to terminate their engagement. As they are paid hourly, they can – in theory – give only an hour’s notice before leaving their assignment. As a temporary employee you are perfectly entitled to do just that. However, you should take care as you are likely going to leave the employer in a position where they are unable to complete their project or leave them without a qualified person who can manage important work.

Should you need to leave your temporary assignment, no matter the reason, you should always give as much notice as possible. If your recruitment agency has the time to secure a replacement, then the on hire employer will be left with less risk of being caught out. That allows you to leave the position in good standing and prevent ill will.


What are the Benefits of Working on a Temporary Basis?

There are several benefits to working on a temporary basis. If you are looking for something to fill in time between permanent jobs, then a temporary role can ensure you are still making some money during your downtime.

If you are coming back to the working world after taking a break, then temporary employment provides a great opportunity for you to update your work experience and showcase that you are still employable. If you’ve worked in the same industry for some time and aren’t sure how you’ll adjust to a different one, then taking on temporary work in the new sector is a great way to gain practical insight into the industry. You want to minimise accepting a permanent role and then having to leave because it’s not right for you after all. Think of it as allowing you to try before you buy. Temporary work also helps to ensure your skills are up-to-date.

Temporary work gives you lots of exposure to plenty of different companies, industries, business cultures, and systems. It helps you to better decide what you want out of your long-term work and open brand new doors and create new opportunities for you.