What's the difference between temp jobs and contracting jobs?

If  you’ve ever spent time on a job board or website, you’ve probably seen the words “temp” or “contracting” frequently. To many, these words are interchangeable, but in reality, there are important distinctions. Depending on the level of freedom and flexibility you want, it's important to understand the differences between a temporary contract and a contractor role. We've defined the two forms of work so that you know exactly which form of employment suits you and the kind of job descriptions you should be paying attention to.

What is a temporary job?

Businesses across many sectors will list temporary positions to fill gaps within their workforce. For this reason, you’ll see temp jobs in any number of departments and industries. Many employers see temping as a great short-term solution to cover roles where a permanent member of staff is on leave or off sick, or to merely cover a short-term role that has a definite end.

How long do temp roles last?

Temporary roles can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and they are a great fit for those looking for casual work where there is a degree of flexibility, those looking to build their transferable skills, or workers building experience in different industries. People often undertake temp work when they relocate to a new city, or to maintain their CV while undertaking further study, raising a family or starting their own business.

Your rights as a temp employee

Depending on your situation, the benefits of temping are compelling but it is important to remember that temporary staff don't receive the benefits of permanent or contract workers. Sick leave and annual leave are not part of a temping arrangement, and temps are generally paid by the hour. Your employer is also under no obligation to keep you on for the full period and can terminate the position without warning. Can you negotiate your temp pay? This will depend on your skills and your track record. After you’ve proven yourself, you may have the opportunity to discuss an increase with your recruiter or employer.

What is a contracting role?

Temp roles and contracting roles are both set for a short time, but while temporary jobs offer flexibility (sometimes at the cost of security), contracting jobs are more defined in their terms and length. Contractors are paid through the company payroll on a pro-rata basis, and this agreement can be set for a fixed-term basis from the very beginning or on a rolling contract.

Work benefits for contractors

One of the benefits of choosing contract work over temp work is that contractors receive the leave benefits temps aren't entitled to. If you are someone who craves flexibility within a role, but still likes to ensure a certain level of job security where you are made aware in advance when your contract is due to end, then contracting is definitely the fit for you.

Key differences between temp and contract work

  • Temp work is paid through your recruiter, whereas contract work gets paid through the company payroll.
  • Temp employees are paid hourly, whereas contract workers are paid pro-rata.
  • Temp work doesn’t include sick pay or other benefits, whereas contract work does.
  • Contractors tend to have more job security in that they will find out in advance when the job is due to end; temp workers’ employment can be terminated without notice.

Are you ready to make the leap to becoming either a temporary worker or contractor? Contact the team at Michael Page today today for a chat about the best option for you.


Temp jobs and contracting roles differ in several ways, including:

  • Contract terms
  • Benefits and conditions
  • Flexibility
  • Warning notice before termination
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