When Do You Need to Hire Temporary Staff?

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Contributed by Olivia Coughtrie

Olivia Coughtrie is Co-founder & Director at Oriel Partners, a PA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. Olivia is passionate about providing high-quality talents to businesses and the best career opportunities to candidates. Get in touch with the team today for help with temporary recruitment.

Almost all businesses face periodic demand peaks due to seasonal trends or outside influences affecting the supply of products or services. 

Many companies opt to upscale their workforce to cope with surging demand and to ensure that customers are always satisfied, no matter how busy the company gets. But there are other reasons companies might choose to explore the option of temporary staff, too. 

In this article, we’ll explain more about what a temporary employee means and take you through some of the most common contracts businesses offer to temp workers. 

Then, we’ll discuss some of the key reasons why companies employ temporary staff before going into a little more detail about the benefits of doing so and how you can utilize the services of recruitment agencies to find the right candidates. 

Read on to learn more!

What Is Classed as a Temporary Employee?

A temporary employee is any employee taken on without a permanent employee contract. The agreement between a temporary team member and a company will vary depending on the role’s requirements or the specific project they’re working on. 

Some temporary employees will work for a company for a short period, ranging from a day to a month. Temporary employees taken on for a longer-term role might work with a business for six months to a year. 

Employees working temporarily will usually have a contract with the company, but these terms can vary quite significantly. In the next section, we’ll explain more about how the most commonly used temporary agreements work and what they offer to candidates and businesses.

Types of Contracts You Can Offer to Temp Workers

Temporary workers can join a business for many reasons, and that’s why you’ll find numerous contracts being offered to different types of temporary employees. Here are some of the most common temporary contracts used by UK businesses.

Temporary contracts

A temporary contract is created with an end date in mind. The role will not become permanent, even if the end date is subject to change. 

The employee being taken on is temporary, but they will usually still be offered the same rights as permanent staff, such as holiday entitlement. The business will also look after the temporary staff member’s employment rights.

Fixed-term contracts

Contracts created for a fixed term will either have an end date or they will be clear that the role will end when a specific project is complete. 

Employees hired under fixed-term contracts are also typically entitled to similar rights and perks to full-time employees, such as holiday entitlement or health insurance. Such arrangements are similar to standard temporary contracts.

Freelancers and contractors

Contracts drawn up between freelancers are contractors will vary according to the specific freelancer’s terms. However, these contracts are often more informal and flexible. 

Remember that freelancers and temporary contract workers take on the responsibility for their own tax and NI contributions, as they are technically self-employed. 

Freelancers are contractors who do not usually have any holiday entitlement or rights similar to those of permanent employees built into their contracts. 

Agency contracts

Businesses often opt to hire temporary staff through an agency. 

In such cases, an agency will look after the rights of the agency workers, agreeing to and managing their contracts in advance. 

This is a popular option as it enables companies to source temp workers quickly, and much of the work is done for them by the agency.

Zero-hour contracts

If a business needs maximum flexibility, it might offer zero-hour contracts to temporary recruits. 

This means that hours are not guaranteed, and the company can ask staff to work a certain number of hours at short notice. 

If a company is heading into a hectic period of time, it might offer zero-hour contracts to several temporary workers to help ease the pressure.

When Should You Hire Temporary Staff?

Companies might consider hiring temporary workers for many reasons, ranging from an expected peak in demand to signs that a staff shortage is around the corner. 

Here are some top reasons companies might hire an employee on a temporary basis: 

Periods of increased demand

Temporary staffing can resolve problematic situations, like a sudden increase in demand that existing staff might struggle to cope with. 

This might happen due to external factors, or it could result from expected changes in market demand (such as a significant surge in sales before Christmas, for example). 

Staff shortages

If several team members have handed in their notice at the same time, or influential members of the workforce plan to take breaks, businesses might opt to hire temporary employees to bridge the gap during recruitment drives. 

This takes the pressure off for remaining staff and allows businesses the time to find the ideal candidates for the roles that need to be filled. 

Business uncertainty 

Looming business uncertainty can make it difficult for companies to commit to offering permanent positions. 

Of course, an inability to offer these types of roles to candidates can also be a roadblock that stagnates the growth of the business in the long term.

Hiring temporary staff is an ideal solution, allowing a brand to grow and overcome times of uncertainty. 

Short-term challenges

Sometimes short-term projects or challenges might need a larger workforce than a business has, but it wouldn’t be sensible to take on permanent employees when quieter periods are just around the corner. 

Temporary employees or short-term contractors enable businesses to manage such situations efficiently.

The Benefits of Hiring Temporary Employees

As a business owner, one of the big questions you might ask is, “what is an advantage of using temporary workers?”.

The benefits of hiring temporary workers are endless, whether a company needs a fresh perspective on ongoing challenges or its staff simply doesn’t have the time to manage an ever-growing workload. 

Take a look at some of the critical advantages of temporary workers below: 

Shorter hiring process

Temporary workers can be hired quickly, as the recruitment process tends to be much simpler than that of permanent employees. For candidates and businesses alike, it’s usually a smoother and easier process – no matter what the role entails. 


Temporary positions provide invaluable flexibility for candidates and the companies that hire them. This flexibility means that businesses have the option to extend temporary roles if the employee agrees. 

Temporary work also provides flexible employment options to candidates who might need a job that works around their other commitments. 

New perspectives 

Sometimes tricky obstacles simply need a fresh pair of eyes on them, and that’s another excellent reason to explore the possibility of hiring temporary team members. 

New employees come to the business with unique skills and experience, meaning they might see a way around challenges existing employees have yet to tackle. 

Recruitment opportunities 

If a temporary employee impresses the team that hires them, there’s always the option to offer that individual a permanent position. This is an excellent way of recruiting new team members, providing the business with a ‘try before you buy’ option. 


Hiring permanent staff can be an expensive exercise. Offering temporary contracts, by contrast, is far more cost-effective. Businesses only need to pay for the extra help they require and won’t find themselves out of pocket after finding out they’ve hired more staff than they need. 

Relief for existing team members 

Hiring a temporary team member can provide instant relief if a business is experiencing high demand. 

This is especially important if loyal employees are currently struggling with a growing workload, as mounting stress can negatively impact their motivation and lead to decreased employee retention.

The Best Ways to Hire Temporary Employees

Businesses can use many channels and platforms to find and hire temporary employees. 

Here are just a few of the most popular options amongst companies operating in the UK. 

Using a temp agency

A temp agency is ideal for businesses looking to hire temporary employees quickly. 

Using a staffing agency removes all of the hassles and stresses of finding suitable temporary employees. 

They will look after the recruitment process on behalf of a business, providing a company with top talent at a moment’s notice. 

Hiring on LinkedIn

Social networks like LinkedIn offer some great recruitment opportunities. Businesses can post about upcoming positions or use paid advertising to ensure job ads reach suitable candidates.  

Freelancers on Upwork or TopTal

Freelancing platforms provide a wealth of talent that businesses can easily access. 

Set up an advertisement on one of these platforms to connect with marketing freelancers with the right skills and experience for the job. 

Nearshore development teams

Outsourcing partners like nearshore development teams offer another option for businesses looking to hire temporary staff. Typically used by software companies, these teams can provide companies with highly skilled engineers whenever they need them.

Temp Staff Can Give Your Business the Tools to Succeed

Temporary employment offers advantages to businesses and professionals alike, which is why so many brands are now exploring the opportunities of temporary contracts. 

Hiring temporary staff during periods of high demand is, of course, a no-brainer, but there are plenty of other reasons companies might employ new staff temporarily. 

Temporary team members offer a fresh perspective on ongoing issues. For example, they will often have skills and experience that existing employees don’t, adding additional functionality and capability to your teams. 

Temporary staff provide businesses with other advantages, too. These employees are hired on a flexible basis, and the support they offer tends to be far more cost-effective than that of permanent positions. 

And, of course, recruiting staff for temporary roles is far quicker and easier than it would be if they were being taken on permanently.

I'm Allison Dunn,

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