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What’s the Difference Between Temporary and Seasonal Employees?

Harding Group Temporary Seasonal Employee

The difference between temporary and seasonal employees can be a bit confusing, but it’s important for employers to know which is which.

Sometimes your business needs a little extra help, but not a permanent new addition to the team. It may seem like a bit of a pickle—and must have once been: necessity is the mother of invention, after all, and at some point, the positions of temporary and seasonal employees were created. Pickle deftly escaped.

…Unless the distinction between the two terms has always seemed vaguely perplexing to you…

Fear not! This is a very common source of confusion, even for long-time employers. Temporary and seasonal workers tend to share some duties, but these are distinct positions nonetheless. Follow along with this guide to the difference between them so that when the need for an extra set of hands arises, you’ll know which variety of interim hire better suits the circumstances.

Temporary Employees

In the vast majority of cases, temps are brought in to… brace yourself… temporarily cover the duties of a permanent staffer on leave. Maternity and serious illness or injury are the most common causes for this type of vacancy; in any case, when a temporary employee is hired, it’s understood by all parties that the absent team member will eventually resume their role. Needless to say, the temp’s stint covering for the wayward staffer comes to an end when this staffer returns.

It’s not entirely uncommon for a temporary worker to be offered a (different) permanent position if their tenure with the company went markedly well. And since temps are generally aware of this possibility, they tend to be reliably hard workers, aiming to impress. If continued employment should indeed emerge in the temp’s mind as an enticing prospect, they’ll essentially be working as if their job were on the line.

In most cases, temporary employees are hired through a staffing agency. The upside is that this functions as a sort of quality assurance; the downside is the fee such an agency requires, which usually falls somewhere between 15 and 30% of the temp’s salary/wages—but not from these wages: an important distinction. Their earnings tend to be on the lower side for reasons that are easy enough to surmise.

Seasonal Employees

Rather than filling a vacancy, seasonal workers are brought on to fill a need. Often, yes, this need coincides with a particular season… For instance: In retail, SEs are hired in droves for the holiday rush. In landscaping, summer is the SE’s time to shine. The duration of their employment is understood from the get-go to be very brief in nature, though some seasonal employees who enjoy and excel at the work do wind up returning annually when that certain need does. Part and parcel when hiring someone on scales measured in weeks, seasonal employees may seem to lack the drive, chutzpah, and ostensible enthusiasm for intra-office latte delivery that often characterizes the ambitious temp. But a seasonal hire can be quite beneficial: odd hours—as in, the shifts nobody on staff wants—are practically definitional in this role, and having someone to bear some of the brunt of a seasonal rush can be good for team morale (i.e., can help prevent burnout). Generally speaking, it’s a very low-risk hire. -And, since staffing agencies don’t typically contract seasonal work—plus the fact that many seasonal employment seekers are either teens or retirees—it’s also a low-cost hire. (Whether you go with a temp or a… season, labor laws do, of course, apply.)

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 7th, 2022 at 1:44 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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