So You Want to Hire a Temp? How to Use a Recruitment Agency

So You Want to Hire a Temp? How to Use a Recruitment Agency

It’s becoming more common in Australia to use a recruitment agency to hire temporary staff.  At people2people, we realise that there are many businesses, owners and managers who are new to the process of engaging a recruitment agency to hire a temporary member of staff.

Before we get into the actual process of hiring a temp, let’s define temp staff, who are often confused with casual, part time or contract staff.

What exactly is a temp?

  • Temporary staff are usually hired through a third party, as distinct to casual staff who are directly employed by the company on a casual basis.
  • Temp staff can work part time. However, they usually work five days a week for a defined period of time, such as three months.
  • Contractors are either hired by a company and are on the company payroll for a fixed period, or, in the case of independent contractors, have their own ABN or company and invoice the company for a defined contractual period.
  • The final important definition requires understanding that the employment relationship with the temp staff lies with the third party. Therefore, with recruitment agency temp staff, the employer is actually the agency. The agency and their staff are ‘on hired’ to the client.

After making the decision to hire a temp, it’s time to engage an agency. Two of the biggest mistakes when hiring a temp for the first time are assuming you need to interview and trying to work out the rate yourself.

Should I interview potential temps?

So You Want to Hire a Temp? How to Use a Recruitment Agency

An interview doesn’t need to occur if hiring a temp for a short term assignment. If your receptionist is sick and you need someone today, then conducting an interview is simply not practical. For an interview to be practical, an assignment length of two to three months is a good benchmark. Anything less is probably wasting your time, and the delayed process may mean your preferred candidate could accept another offer.  If you are using an agency for the first time, please explore the guarantees that are available and remember that you have the right to ask a temp staff member to leave immediately if they are not meeting the requirements of the job.

How are temp rates determined?

The hourly rate quoted is not related to the salary that would be paid to a permanent staff member. The agency passes on the on-costs of employment and their margin. These on-costs include superannuation, payroll tax, professional indemnity insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and other insurance costs. The margin is then added, which can vary depending on the market and the industry for which you are recruiting. My advice is to have your agency break down the rate into these different components. If they can’t do this, then you should engage another agency. people2people offers a rate calculator to assist our clients with the cost breakdown and their budgetary restrictions.

How far in advance can I hire a temp?

Finally, when hiring a temp, timing is very important. Hiring people for a set period of time means you are accessing a different pool of talent than if you were hiring a permanent staff member. The pool of talent that choose this way of working usually are either between permanent employment, returning to the workforce or on a working holiday visa. This means that you are accessing a limited talent pool at a specific moment in time, so expecting to be able to book a temp a long time in advance is highly unusual. Most temp jobs are filled on the same day, and, for senior positions, at most within the week. You can certainly provide an agency with advanced warning, but expect the role to be filled right before the start date.

Hiring temps can dramatically increase the flexibility of an organisation to respond to seasonal and market variations. These few words are just the tip of the iceberg, so if you have any questions about flexible workforce options please send me a message or leave a comment below.

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Mark Smith

Mark Smith

Managing Director at people2people
Commencing his career with Deloitte in the late 1980’s, Mark is a qualified Accountant. In 1994, he decided to make a career switch to the recruitment industry. During his early recruitment career with two listed recruitment entities, Mark recruited and managed teams in both temporary and permanent disciplines, in the Sydney, Brisbane and London markets. In February 2005, Mark established people2people with Manda Milling and Simon Gressier. Mark is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA), a member of the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association (MRCSA) and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD).


  1. Brett Clarke says:

    Good advice

    I would also suggest that the temp rate is related to the perm rate but would also include casual loading typically at 25% of the base perm rate along with the other colts outlined -! this is a legal requirement for most lower to middle level roles to account for annual leave, sick pay and other benefits typical of a perm position but not applicable to casual /temp roles

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  4. Knowing how the temp agency calculates their rates is important. If you know how they calculate their rates and how much is being offered for a permanent position, that will help you know which agency to go with. It may also help to get referrals from others to decide which agency to go with.

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