Temporary Employee Rights & Benefits You Need to Know

Written By Aaron Smith

temporary employee rightsIt’s an exciting time to get involved with the computer programming and developer industry! There is a lot of possibility for growth in this sector, but also a lot of competition for the highest profile positions.

For your optimal success as a programmer and/or developer, you might have to try a couple different options before finding your perfect fit for a job. Let’s explore the options for temporary IT jobs and the associated rights and benefits of temporary employment.

Whether you’ve never worked in the industry or you’re currently working in it but want a job that fits you better, temp work can be a great solution or stepping stone when you know your rights and your options. As with any temporary position, workers should understand the range of benefits and rights associated. Knowing this, you can take advantage of what’s out there, exploring options for where you could work and what you could do.

There are so many possibilities for where you could fit as a computer programmer and developer. Temp work can open doors you wouldn’t have even considered going through if you had only looked into traditional positions. Before dipping your toes in this fast-moving water, here are the temporary employee rights and benefits that you need to know.

What is Temporary Employment?

Temporary employment, often called “temp work,” is just what it sounds like: a type of employment that has a fixed, limited term. Sometimes companies directly hire workers for short-term jobs. More often, temp workers are hired for a specific time period and contracted through a staffing agency. This way, the company gets the benefit of hiring vetted workers for a limited time, and the workers get the benefit of finding quality positions they can try out for a few months.

Staffing agencies act as go-betweens for companies and workers, matching people to positions at other companies. Most of the time, staffing agencies will work with candidates to find one position that is a good fit; though, sometimes, temp workers can have several concurrent part-time assignments. Working through a staffing agency typically involves going to the same job every day for the duration of that temp contract and then switching to a new opportunity.

Temp work is not the same as freelance, contract, or self-employed work; instead, it is essentially a short-term regular job, similar to a trial period. Often, temp work can transition into regular work. This is called temp-to-hire, and temp agencies typically spearhead that transition.

Enjoy Stable Flexibility

The primary benefit of temporary IT jobs is stable flexibility. In other words, programmers with temp work can continue earning an income, fleshing out their resume, and building their network all while still searching for the best fit for their skills and lifestyle.

It might seem like a temporary job is the opposite of stable, since this type of employment is usually only for a few months. However, during the term of your temp work, you get the stability of a steady paycheck while you gain experience and knowledge toward finding the long-term job that is your perfect fit. In this way, temporary employment is a stable way to explore different potential careers and experience different employers' cultures without making an initial long-term commitment.

While looking for the best job, programmers and developers can work as temporary employees, getting income and experience plus more information about the ideal fit for their skills and interests. This then provides more flexibility to jump to better job positions as the opportunities arise.

That flexibility is especially important when programmers are aiming toward a career change to SEO or a similar aspect of their development expertise. With options to try out different possibilities without making long-term commitments, programmers can still stay online, keeping the pulse of what’s happening in programming, while enjoying the confidence of having stable employment during the job search.

This type of stable flexibility makes it possible to maintain an updated and robust developer LinkedIn profile to find their dream programming job while continuing to work the whole time. With this established understanding of the benefits of this type of balance, let's look into the rights afforded to the programmers and developers who do this type of temporary work.

Possibility for Benefit Qualification

Not all temporary IT jobs give programmers and developers the same opportunities, so it’s important to recognize what the range of possibilities could be. In some cases, temporary workers are employees of the agency that places them in positions, making them eligible for benefits offered through the agency. Working full-time hours, even if spread across more than one part-time placement, brings eligibility for full-time benefits.

Temporary workers placed through a full-service agency can depend on their placement services to explain to them the benefits options for their matched opportunities.

In other cases, temporary workers are employees of the organization where they are working, and so they are entitled to all the same rights as any other employee at that organization. The company should provide the information as to what rights these employees have. Whether temp workers are considered full employees at their current company or not, federal and state employment laws apply. The laws for what benefits are required for temp workers vary from state to state.

One of the most notable rights of temp workers is the right to a clearly defined employment agreement including length of term and payment specifications. That explanation should include recognition of what benefits are covered. Working with a temp hiring agency allows temp workers to understand the scope of their employment agreement offer, with support on evaluating the agreement’s merit and potentially negotiating for different terms when applicable.

While paid time off, holidays, and healthcare benefits will not be a part of every temporary IT job, some programmers and developers will get access to those benefits, depending on how many hours they work and the terms of their contract. Staffing agencies can help programmers and developers navigate the uncertainty so temp workers know what benefits they qualify for and how that would look in their positions.

Understanding ERISA: Retirement Plan Considerations

In addition to the state requirements, federal guidelines do apply for temporary employee rights and benefits: most notably, ERISA. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), temporary employees who work for at least 1,000 hours within a 12-month period will automatically qualify for that company's retirement plans. Even if they do not meet the requirements of the 1,000-hour rule, temporary employees are still protected by labor laws which dictate various types of benefits.

Benefits vary from state to state, so it's important to research the laws of your state. For example, some states might require all employers who employ temps at least half-time to provide them with health insurance while others may stipulate one week of vacation per year or sick leave.

Understanding the ACA: Health Insurance Coverage

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers to offer health insurance to any employee working at least 30 hours per week (or 130 hours per month). Temp employees working full-time or almost full-time will fall into this category. That means that even if you’re only working with a company for a few months, during that time, they need to give an option for health insurance coverage. That should be a clear section in the employment agreement.

Leave and Vacation Time

Depending on the agreement, temp workers can qualify for sick leave, holidays, and paid time off. Just like for regular workers, benefits vary significantly from company to company and position to position. It’s worth investing time up front to discover the details for your particular circumstances. Temp work agreements should make specifications here, but any ambiguities should be addressed up front with the employer.

Unsure of the Rights? Just Ask!

If you’re considering temporary employment as a programmer or developer, make sure to prioritize your knowledge of the associated rights and benefits. Any uncertainty on benefits offered or possible options—from health insurance coverage to sick leave—should be resolved before accepting your assignment. The staffing agency as well as the terms of the temporary work arrangement will clearly explain these rights and benefits. With that clearly understood, you can focus on what programmers and developers do best—computer work!