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Tips for Temps: How the System Works

Tips for Temps: How the System Works

Althea Chang |

Employment seekers are increasingly looking for temporary, contract and seasonal work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These days it pays, however, to go into a temporary work situation fully armed with information on how the system works. Sometimes, it makes more sense to avoid temp work.

“When the economy is down, employers are more likely to use questionable employment practices,” says David West, executive director for the Center for a Changing Workforce, an organization providing policy analysis on employment issues for temporary, contract, and part-time workers.

Here are a few things to consider before you commit to a temporary, part-time or contract gig.

1. Securing Health Insurance

If you’re looking for temporary, part time or contract work, not many companies will offer you health benefits, or any benefits for that matter, says John Challenger, of executive search firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Temp agencies and staffing firms are often used to fill temporary posts, especially the lower paid positions. Regardless of where you are placed, if the staffing firm is technically considered your employer, you’re paid through the agency and they don’t have to give you benefits, West says.

Some companies, such as like Starbucks (Stock Quote: SBUX), Walgreens (Stock Quote: WAG) and UPS (Stock Quote: UPS) are known for generous benefit plans even for part-timers. Many temporary staffing firms that do offer health coverage only offer it through limited benefit plans, according to West.

“They’ll pay for a few doctor visits and that’s it,” says West. And if you don’t read the fine print on your health coverage, you may not realize that’s all your plan covers, he adds. “It gives you a false sense of security, and if there’s an emergency, your health care costs could put you close to bankruptcy,” West says.

If you’re a worker with special skills and you’re being wooed by a company, you may be able to negotiate for a better benefits package, says Challenger.

But if you are offered benefits they may still be expensive, warns West. If a company does promise you benefits, make sure you get it in writing, West advises.

Continue reading on the next page for more temp tips →

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