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Contract, Interim and Temporary Jobs Explained: The Complete Guide

By Francis Kelly

Contract, Interim and Temporary Jobs Explained: The Complete Guide

The Rise of Contract and Interim Employment

First, it should be said that there has been a significant rise in the number of organisations choosing to employ people on non-permanent contracts. Like most major changes that have happened recently, Covid is mostly responsible for this shift.

Although, it must be said that even before Covid, there was a growing trend of employers offering non-permanent contracts and enough employees more than happy to take on these types of roles.

There has been much speculation since the turn of the century that advances in technology are contributing to the death of the 9-5. Remote work was on the rise pre-Covid due to people’s preference for flexibility, and the term ‘gig-economy’ had been coined to describe individuals who prefer to work on temporary contracts.

As of October 2020, temporary and contract vacancies had risen at their quickest rate since 2018, according to the latest KPMG and Recruitment Employment Confederation UK report on Jobs survey.

But for employers, there is a lot to consider when thinking about what kind of contracts they are going to offer going forwards.

Many businesses are not familiar with the technicalities that surround temporary and interim contracts, and for this reason, they sometimes shy away from offering them. Additionally, the IR35 legislation which is coming into effect in April 2021 has implications for temporary employment - we will explain the implications of IR35 for your business in more detail further in this report.

So, with more employers than ever turning to interim and contract employment to help them through this business-critical time we are currently in – is it time you got on board too?

If you are considering temporary over permanent employment for some of your key roles right now, first you must understand what it is you need.

Let’s look at the key distinctions between contract and interim employment and when you might want to consider each.

Contract Versus Interim – Which is Right for Your Business?

The most widely accepted definition between these two types of roles is that interim positions tend to be more managerial while a contract role is skills-based.

The criteria when you need either a contract or an interim role is detailed in the flow diagram below.

Hiring a contract or an interim employee – whichever your organisation needs right now – is different from hiring on regular permanent contracts, and such it has different advantages and disadvantages.

Next, let’s look at the benefits of interim and contract employees for your business.


What Are the Benefits of Interim and Contracting for the Employer?

As we have explained, temporary contracts are on the rise, and this trend is set to continue for the foreseeable.

With such uncertainty in the market, it is understandable that employers are opting for non-permanent contracts as a way to safeguard their business. And there are benefits for employees, too – we will look in more detail at the benefits for employees later in the report.

The following are some of the main benefits which motivate our clients to opt for temporary contracts in their business.

Less Risk

Right now, business owners have one priority – protecting their organisation. But it goes a step further than that – not only must we protect, but also futureproof in any way possible.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we can’t predict what is around the corner, and that planning for unpredictability needs to be in your post-Covid business plan.

The main benefit of hiring employees on temporary or interim contracts is the reduction of monetary risk while getting the value you need from a talented individual.

You get value for money with a short-term solution; you are protecting your business in the best way possible until things settle down and you are able to employ more permanent staff when you understand more clearly what your business needs in the post-Covid world that is still emerging.

More Flexibility

Recruiting on a contract or interim basis allows for greater flexibility for the client.

This is due to the shorter time-frame involved with non-permanent contracts – you can be more selective with your recruitment time-frames which may need to adapt to changes and costs in your business.

You are in control, and you can choose to include a break-out clause if you need to protect your assets in the event that unexpected changes crop up.

Ideal for Starting Projects

During this time of great change in the market, many businesses are changing their products and services, restructuring, shrinking some departments and growing others – and temporary and interim employees are ideal to serve when this is happening in your business.

Interim employees, in particular, can be brought in to lay the groundwork for a new project, which you can then follow up by employing a junior to carry on the project. This is an incredibly cost-effective way of growing your business right now when many businesses believe that recruitment during this time is not financially possible.

Helpful for SME’s

Interim and contract recruitment is particularly helpful for SMEs right now, who might not have the budget to employ a professional on a permanent contract. Still, they need their expertise to help the business grow right now.

Additionally, if you have recently had to make redundancies, temporary and interim is the perfect solution for when you are looking to create new roles due to restructuring. It’s a short-term solution until you are certain of what your business will need going forwards – many businesses are finding it hard to predict what they will need in the coming months due to the volatility in the market right now.

Their Expertise

When you are a career contractor, your reputation is everything. This means that you can guarantee that when you hire a contract or interim employee, you are getting an expert who will deliver you a great project and the result you need.

Plus they will have experience of working in many different organisations and with many different teams, which is a beneficial soft skill to have and will help them add even more value to your business during the time they are with you.

Cultural Fit

Culture fit is something that we as recruiters always have front of mind. Recruiting an individual for your organisation who is a poor fit culturally rarely has a happy ending for all involved – it’s an essential part of the job match.

But for contract and interim employees, again, there is more of a flex when it comes to culture fit, for two reasons.

The first is that as the employee is only going to be in the organisation for a limited time frame, it is less crucial that you must find someone with a 100% culture fit – this allows for greater choice when looking for the new employee and makes the search easier.

But also, sometimes, and especially with interim executive roles, it can be beneficial to hire someone with a different culture fit to the one embedded in your organisation.

This allows the temporary employee to bring a different mindset and offering differing views and opinions to a workplace that may have become stagnant – this is particularly important if the employee has been recruited to help instil growth and change in your business.

So these are the main benefits for the employer, but what about the employee?

There are many reasons that people have historically opted for temporary employment, which are more relevant now than ever.

Let’s look at why top talent are choosing temporary roles.

Why Do Great Employees Choose Temporary Work?

Hiring an excellent employee on a temporary contract to save you money is a smart business move – but what does the employee get out of it?

To fully get behind the idea of temporary and interim contracts, it will help for you to understand the motivations employees have on taking on these types of roles.

So, let’s briefly look at the benefits for employees for these type of contracts.


As we mentioned, there has been a rise in temporary contracts recently. Historically, employees would be either a ‘contractor’ or someone who only ever worked on permanent contracts – there was not a tendency to mix between the two. But with the rise of temporary contracts, we are seeing more individuals considering temporary contracts, and the ‘stigma’ surrounding temporary employment is now dissipating.

High risk, high reward

If an employee has only ever been used to permanent contracts, there can be a risk associated with taking on a contract that has a short time-frame, but some individuals favour this high-risk, high-reward.

Flexibility and variety

Working on temporary contracts allow employees to take on a greater variety of projects, work in different places, meet a variety of people and expand their skill-set.

WARNING! IR35 will have major impliocations for temporary and interim contracts in your business. Read our latest Recruitment Report (for free) to find out more information on it: The Ultimate Guide to the Hiring Interim and Temporary Contract Employees in your Organisation.

Making the Switch from Temporary to Permanent

While contract and interim employees are the ideal solution to many of the current problems facing organisations, you might be wondering what the implications are of offering a permanent contract to a temporary employee.

If a temporary employee really makes an impact on your organisation and you are thinking about taking them on full-time, consider the following:

  • Consider what type of role you are looking to fill – you might have a great candidate, but do they have the niche skill-set and availability that makes them truly irreplaceable?

  • Bringing in a highly experienced interim employee to help you set up a new project or take the business in a new direction is one thing – offering them a permanent contract is another. Do you have the budget to take them on permanently? Often a junior successor will suffice.

When you partner with a recruitment company who specialises in temporary, contract and interim employment, they will be able to support you through every step of hiring employees on temporary contracts, and then making the switch to permanent if needed.

Our blogs aren't the only place that we provide quality, useful and free advice for your business! We also provide monthly reports (that we call Recruitment Reports). They are definitely worth a read. Check them out!

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