Hiring temps is a flexible and cost-effective way to fill gaps and bring in extra resource or skills, but if you haven't before, where should you start and what are the benefits? Freelance writer and HR specialist Nicola Greenbrook talks us through everything you need to know.
What is a temp?
A temporary agency worker or ‘temp’ differs from a permanent member of staff as, rather than being directly employed by your organisation, they are employed by the 'employment business' that supplies agency temps.
Technically, they are on the agency’s payroll and entitled to the agency’s benefits, but under the care and command of the organisation they have been placed in and, typically, for an agreed length of time.
Why hire a temp?
The REC reports that lingering uncertainty around the economy has led to a greater reliance on temps. They offer a wide range of skills, insight and experiences, and therefore hiring temps and gaining from their expertise could be an important consideration when developing a resourcing strategy.
Hiring temps can drive cost and time savings as the advertising and screening process is undertaken by the recruitment agency as well as the administration of payroll, holiday pay and Statutory Sick Pay. It also provides the opportunity to assess an individual’s ability and performance in a specific role without the financial burden of a permanent job offer - and the temp can themselves assess the charity and the role before they make any firm decisions.
Temps can meet a variety of different business needs and scenarios, including:
Covering seasonal fluctuations, or a specific project or task that requires a specialist skill set or cover for a set period of time/budget only
Covering a permanent member of staff’s annual leave or long-term sickness absence
Covering a career break or sabbatical, or when a permanent member of staff is on family leave
Bridging the gap when a permanent member of staff has resigned or been dismissed or when waiting for a new perm hire to serve their notice period.
They can also bring a fresh perspective and exciting new ideas as they can apply a specific skill set or experience of working on unusual or niche projects. Temps often make an instant impact.
It's time for temps
The working world has changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the way we approach how and where we work has shifted. For many, creating a ‘career portfolio’, rather than prescribing to a typical 9-5 schedule, is no longer a dream but a way of working that can be realised. Temporary positions offer flexibility, a variety of different experiences and the opportunity to explore multiple interests alongside regular work.
The cost-of-living crisis and ongoing uncertainty around the economic outlook has increased the uptake of temps, and it’s not just younger workers who want to temp. Recruiter Magazine reports that older workers are leading the way, with 41% of those exclusively doing temporary work aged 50-70.
According to the Office for National Statistics there were estimated to be around 1.65 million temporary workers in the United Kingdom as of March 2023. This presents an exciting and lucrative opportunity for charities to increase cost-savings and widen their market adaptability - and there’s an army of temps ready to work!
The technical stuff...
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 affect the use and supply of agency workers and here are the key points.
Firstly, on rights:
From the first day of their placement, agency workers have the right to equal treatment in relation to collective facilities and amenities (such as a canteen, toilet and shower facilities, and a prayer room) and the right to the same information about job vacancies (known as "relevant vacancies”) as comparable workers.
Following the completion of a 12-week qualifying period, agency workers are entitled to equal treatment in relation to "basic working and employment conditions”. Although not an exhaustive list, this normally includes the relevant terms and conditions included in the contracts of the employees of the organisation they are hired to work at. This may include pay, working time and annual leave. In order to qualify for this, the temp must be working in the same role with the same hirer for a 12-month period, regardless of how many hours worked on a weekly basis.
On completion of the 12-week qualifying period, agency workers also become entitled to certain family-friendly rights, including the right to paid time off for antenatal care and the right to be considered for suitable alternative work if an assignment is not suitable on maternity grounds.
And on payments:
Most temps are employed via an agency on a PAYE basis (HMRC’S system to collect tax and National Insurance [NI]) and any hours worked are paid weekly, with tax and NI deductions made on their behalf. However, as of April 2021, new off-payroll working rules were introduced which aimed to stop ‘disguised employees’ - workers operating as contractors for tax purposes who are engaged in the same capacity as salaried employees. There are further considerations when it comes to tax legislation and status:
Limited Company/Personal Service Company (PSC) – Temporary workers known as PSC contractors can be used by recruitment agencies if they have their own limited company. The off-payroll working (IR35) rules ensure that they pay broadly the same tax and NI as an employee would. However, the client must determine whether the temp is inside IR35 (i.e. employed for tax purposes and the agency removes tax and NI) or outside IR35 (self-employed for tax purposes and the agency doesn't remove tax and NI). Therefore, the agency has no control on whether they have to (by law) remove tax and NI before they pay the ‘PSC invoice’. This is often a favourite method for candidates providing they can be outside IR35, but when the client determines it inside IR35, however, this usually results in a non-application.
Sole trader – If an individual is self employed, runs their own business and can work for themselves, they are also known as being a ‘sole trader’. However, this can be a challenging area for recruitment agencies, and many choose not to use sole traders. They are naturally outside IR35, which makes status determination simple for the individual, but less so for the recruitment agency. Some agencies tend to offer these candidates on the basis that they bill the client directly, however, whether they will allow it is at the client’s discretion.
Generally, if an individual is interested in temping, and regardless of their status, the recruitment agency will discuss it with them upon application. If they are right for the job, the consultant will propose their case to the client, their options based on the candidate's preferences, and the legal aspects they need to consider.
How to effectively onboard temps
Onboarding temps effectively and preparing for their arrival is an important step in ensuring a successful placement on both sides; maximising the opportunity for the charity and also providing a memorable experience for the temp. This is especially crucial in a hybrid working environment or if the temp is working remotely.
Here are some ideas for successful onboarding:
Create a personalised and tailored programme, and establish if the temp has any needs or would like any reasonable adjustments to be taken into account before they join.
Sharing information about the dress code and some helpful intel about the local area and where to grab lunch can really make a difference to alleviating any first-day nerves! Better still, set up a team lunch in their first week for a warm welcome.
Organise relevant induction meetings and welcome sessions with key stakeholders they’re likely to work with during their placement to ensure they have a broad overview of the charity and consider the best delivery method; whether face-to-face, virtual or a blend of the two.
Ensure the right IT equipment and tech is in place and configured before they join, and that they are trained on any specialist or customised systems in place at the charity. Cyber Awareness Training is essential.
Finally, do all you can to make sure they feel connected and part of the organisation and the team. Assigning a buddy can be helpful as can outlining what communication channels are used at the charity, so they feel comfortable and part of the team. Maintain regular contact, especially if they are working remotely, to avoid any feelings of isolation or negative impact on mental health.
Ultimately, hiring temps can bring multiple benefits to your charity; including time and cost savings, a flexible resource that meets different business needs throughout the year without the financial burden of a permanent hire and a fresh perspective and new ideas.
With the right advice and effective onboarding, it’s a win-win situation. The addition of skilled and knowledgeable temps can be a key component of your resourcing strategy and helpful in navigating the challenges of an unstable economy.
Nicola Greenbrook, London based freelance writer, podcaster and HR Specialist
Many thanks to Nicola, and if you're considering a temp, naturally it helps to ask experienced charity specialists who'll know exactly the kind of people you need. Specifically, our very own temp experts Ryan Elmer (020 7820 7313) or Sekai Lindsay (020 7820 7307) who'll be delighted to help!
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