In the UK, both the private and public sector are increasingly relying on temping agencies to meet their temporary recruitment needs. Many employers prefer using agencies to drawing up their own short-term direct contracts, as they are flexible and the agency takes on the onerous payroll and administration tasks. The growing trend towards temping contracts has made temp work more attractive, and agency roles now extend to all sectors including education and healthcare. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, on any given day there were nearly one million temporary and contract workers on an assignment.
Agency contracts offer many advantages over permanent or direct contracts for job seekers. Still wondering whether temping is really for you? Read on for five good reasons why you ought to give it a try.
Unemployment can affect anyone at any age, regardless of how much or little experience you have. Moreover, the pandemic has left many people forced to claim unemployment benefits. If you’re looking to get back into work, temping could be the perfect way to do so. Temporary work agencies have extensive lists of employers on their books, and are well placed to offer you a range of assignments across all sectors. Signing up is quick, and you’ll generally be able to access work much quicker than you could if looking for a permanent contract. Whether you want to build on your existing skills or you fancy a change, there’s sure to be a role which suits you.
If you’re currently claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or income support (IS), you may be able to temp and still claim. You’ll need to declare any earnings of more than £5 a week to Jobcentre Plus (or £10 for a couple), and if you work 16 hours or less (and your partner works 24 hours or less) per week then you should still be eligible for a reduced share of your allowance.
To reiterate the previous reason, being a temp can help you to avoid long and difficult periods of unemployment. This only looks better on your CV but can also improve your mental health and levels of motivation. Don’t forget that if you’re working less than 16 hours a week, you can still claim government benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance. The fact that you’ve continued working is also likely to reflect well on both your professional and personal credentials, which will be attractive to potential future employers.
Another less obvious reason to try temping is the social benefits that working brings, and the positive effect this will have on your wellbeing. After being stuck indoors and isolated for much of the past year, temping is the perfect way to meet new people and make friends. You may find that you have a lot in common with your work colleagues, and you could even make friends for life. Human Resources and management teams are increasingly aware of how important it is for teams to get along and work well together in order to boost productivity. Many workplaces now offer both online and face-to-face social events such as team building days, after-work drinks and even yoga sessions! Another temping plus point is that if you and your colleagues don’t see eye-to-eye, it is relatively easy to move on to a different role.
The work canteen or onsite gym could be the perfect place to socialise! As a temp, you are entitled to access all workplace amenities and facilities from day one.
Another largely undocumented benefit of temping is that it can help you to manage your career, regardless of your experience or credentials. Here are a few examples:
Access to permanent roles is perhaps one of the lesser-known advantages of temping. Did you know that as well as using agencies to plug short-term staffing gaps, many organisations now also call upon temporary work agencies to supply agency workers for a potential permanent role? The agency contract serves the same purpose as a trial period in a permanent contract, allowing the recruiter to assess the temporary worker and see whether they are a good fit for the role. Alternatively, if the organisation is particularly impressed with their temp, they may decide to make a temporary role permanent even of this was not the original plan.
If you want to ensure that your temp job becomes permanent, make sure that you do your job to the best of your ability and that you are willing to learn. Make a good impression on the recruiter by being punctual and dressing smartly, and avoid using your smartphone or personal e-mail during working hours. If you tick all of the right boxes, you’ll have a good chance of being one of an increasing number of temps being offered a permanent role.
While long-term or permanent contracts offer greater stability, under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 you’ll still have many advantages as a temp. You have many of the same rights as existing employees of the company from day one of your assignment, and these rights are extended further once you’ve worked for the same company for 12 weeks. If you need further advice on your rights as a temp, contact ACAs (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) for free-of-charge advice: https://www.acas.org.uk/contact
When you’re temping, you’re likely to be offered a wide range of assignments, through which you’ll gain a wealth of experience in different sectors. You could be working for different types of organisations, from major multinationals to microenterprises, gaining new skills along the way. Use this varied experience to demonstrate your ability to adapt to different situations, which is a highly sought-after soft skill for recruiters.
Working for multiple entities will also help to build your professional network and boost your reputation. To cast the net wider, it’s also important to have a social media presence, especially on LinkedIn. To increase your LinkedIn visibility, consider asking current and previous employers or colleagues to give you a recommendation or endorse one of your skills.
Temping has many advantages, some of which you may not have thought of before. It can help you to get back to work after a period of unemployment, stay in work, change career or gain easier access to permanent jobs. You can also use temping roles to grow your professional network and develop new skills.
Take a look at our other articles if you want to know more about pay, your rights as a temp and who to contact for advice.
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