Temp Agencies Key Terms

Learn the lingo and process of hiring temporary workers

Temp agencies can help small businesses maintain productivity even when the workload unexpectedly increases. Consider a temp agency whether you just need someone to fill in for a few days while an employee is out sick, or if you need long-term help on a project.

While you can certainly advertise for temporary employees on your own, temp agencies handle all of the interviewing and pre-screening for you. But first, learn some of the key terms associated with temporary staffing, so you'll understand exactly what you're signing up for.


You can use a temp agency to find permanent employees, through a temp-to-hire process. A temp-to-hire arrangement serves as an evaluation period for both the employer and the employee. However, neither party is under any obligation to continue the arrangement. If the company wishes to hire the temporary worker full-time, it pays a flat fee to the agency, and the worker becomes a member of the team just as if he or she were a direct hire.

Job order

A job order is a request or form filled out by the employer and submitted to the staffing agency. The job order sets out specific details and requirements of the temporary positions available with the company.

Contingent worker

A contingent worker refers to a temporary employee hired for part-time or contracted employment and utilized for a specific project. A contingent worker is paid only according to hours worked and cannot draw benefits.

Independent contractor

If not a contingent worker, an employee you hire through a temp service may be considered an independent contractor. This means you're not responsible for paying their Social Security and employment taxes. You also wouldn't generally offer benefits to an independent contractor. In some instances, the staffing agency does treat temps as employees, and offers them the same benefits as full-time employees would receive.
Internal Revenue Service to determine how you should classify your temporary employees.

Niche agency

Some temporary staffing agencies work with all industries, while others focus only on a specific area. An agency that focuses on just one specific industry is known as a niche staffing agency.


Co-employment is a term used to describe the relationship the agency and the employer together have over a temporary worker or group of workers. Co-employers often share some degree of liability for shared employees.

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