Temporary work or temporary employment (also called odd jobs) refers to an employment situation where the working arrangement is limited to a certain period of time based on the needs of the employing organization. Temporary employees are sometimes called “contractual”, “seasonal”, “interim”, “casual staff”, “outsourcing”, “freelance”; or the word may be shortened to “temps”. In some instances, temporary, highly skilled professionals (particularly in the white-collar worker fields, such as human resources, research and development, engineering, and accounting) refer to themselves as consultants.
Temporary work is different from secondment, which is the assignment of a member of one organisation to another organisation for a temporary period, and where the employee typically retains their salary and other employment rights from their primary organisation but they work closely within the other organisation to provide training and the sharing of experience.
Temporary workers may work full-time or part-time depending on the individual situation. In some instances, temporary workers receive benefits (such as health insurance), but usually benefits are only given to permanent employees as a cost-cutting measure by the employer to save money. Not all temporary employees find jobs through a temporary employment agency. With the rise of the Internet and gig economy (a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs), many workers are now finding short-term jobs through freelance marketplaces: a situation that brings into being a global market for work.
A temporary work agency, temp agency or temporary staffing firm finds and retains workers. Other companies, in need of short-term workers, contract with the temporary work agency to send temporary workers, or temps, on assignments to work at the other companies. Temporary employees are also used in work that has a cyclical nature, requiring frequent adjustments to staffing levels.