What are Temp Agencies?

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  • Written By: Deborah Ng
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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The purpose of temp agencies is to allow businesses to carry on while key employees are out of the office. This comes in especially handy during times of illness, maternity leave or vacation. The word temp is short for temporary, as in temporary employment. By hiring a temp, employers don’t have to worry about work piling up in the case of an employees' extended leave. Temps can also relieve the stress of those employees expected to pick up the slack.

Temp agencies don’t only offer temporary employees to companies looking for vacation or maternity fill-ins, however. If businesses have special tasks to be completed that are too much for existing employees, but would rather not hire additional staff, they can turn to temp agencies. Temps can work one day for a particular business, or they can work for the same company for months.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say a business manager is looking for someone to handle a year end filing project, but would rather not overburden a permanent member of the staff. The manager could call temp agencies to find someone to fill the position.


The manager doesn’t pay the temporary employee, however. Businesses pay temp agencies, and the temp agencies pay their own employees. Of course, they take out their own commission first. Temp agencies charging $25 per hour might only pay their temps $15 to $20 per hour, leaving them with a profit of $5 to $10 per hour per employee. Temps providing specialized services, such as computer programming or accounting, might warrant a higher “per hour” fee.

Temp agencies are becoming more specialized nowadays. While they used to provide only secretarial or clerical services, now they’re staffed with employees of all skill levels. In fact, there are temp agencies that specialize in computer or accounting staff.

Those who work for temp agencies also cite certain benefits. Many enjoy temp work because every day brings something new. Rather than working for the same old company day in and day out, they can work for different businesses every day if they like. If they don’t like working for a particular person or business, they can request a transfer. Many temps are also hired for permanent employment if they do an especially good job.

The downside to temp work is the lack of benefits and stability. Many choose temp work because they’re unemployed or to garner experience. Most who work for temp agencies don’t do so as a permanent career choice. If you’re looking for temporary employment or if you’re looking for someone to fill a short term position, you might check out a few temp agencies. One of them is sure to have what you’re looking for.


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