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Temp Workers vs Contractors vs Host Company: What's the Difference?

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on October 8, 2020 at 12:07 PM

In the world of the gig economy, jobs are far less stable than they were in our grandparents’ or parents’ era, and that can be to the benefit of workers and employers alike.

It provides access to a talent pool you might not have otherwise tapped and the chance to try out new employees before you hire them on full-time. But for employers who are accustomed to traditional hiring, it also opens the door to a new plethora of options that you may not fully understand.

For example: what’s the difference between temp workers and contract workers? And where does a host company fit into the picture? Is it the same thing as a staffing agency? Do you use a staffing agency for temps and contractors, or is it just one or the other?

Keep reading for a quick and easy guide to parse out the difference.

Temp Workers

Temporary workers, or temp workers, aren’t an invention of the gig economy. They existed long before the gig economy and will likely exist long after it.

Businesses across many sectors have long relied on temp workers to fill workforce gaps for a brief period, which is why you may see companies hiring a rash of temp workers seasonally or hiring a lot of temp workers one month and none the next.

Basically, temp workers are a temporary solution to a staffing problem that is not suited to a permanent hire. A good example is a temp worker brought on for maternity/paternity leave cover of a permanent employee. They may also be brought on to assist with temporary increases in workloads, as is the case with businesses that have seasonal performance changes.

The key feature of temp workers is flexibility. They can be brought on for a few hours, a few days, or even a few months. It’s a good option for employees who are trying to build experience in a new industry while they seek permanent employment.

Contract Workers

Temp workers are, as the name implies, a temporary solution to a temporary problem. While contract workers can be brought on for a short-term solution, that’s where the similarities end.

Where temp workers are brought on to fill a temporary staffing shortage, contract workers are brought on with a more defined work role and terms. Most of the time, contractors are brought on to fulfill a project contract in a fixed term. Once the project is finished, the contractor’s role is done.

There’s also a legal difference between the two. Independent contractors are self-employed individuals engaged by the company on a fixed-project basis. Unlike temps, they do not fill out timesheets and are responsible for managing their own time to meet the agreed-upon deadline. Where temps are paid and taxed via W-2s, contractors must calculate their own taxes through 1099s.

Host Companies

This brings us to host companies, which are not to be confused with staffing agencies. Staffing agencies are responsible for filling temporary staffing needs for a company. A host company is a company hosting the temporary or contract employee to fill a temporary staffing need.

Taking Charge of Safety in Staffing

Regardless of classification, safety issues pervade whether you have contractors or temp workers. If anything, these employees face unique risks compared to their permanent counterparts, since they don’t receive the company safety training they would obtain as a full-time employee.

Nonetheless, it is your responsibility to maintain a safe working environment, regardless of the composition of your staff. Check out our blog for more tips on how to deal with a blended staff, like this post on overcoming the challenges of contractor safety.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Safety Management, Safety Culture, Human Resources

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