the increase in the temporary worker

As a proportion of the Australian workforce, casual and temporary work has fluctuated between 19% and 21% of the total workforce over the past two decades but many experts now believe that 2021 will see a significant increase in the use of temporary and casual employment. "Non-standard forms of employment” is the term for different employment arrangements, i.e. temporary employment; part-time and on-call casual work.

COVID-19 may have exacerbated the need but the increase in this type of flexible employment arrangement has been on the rise across the globe for some time and is driven by demographics, industry changes, industrial laws and agreements and technological changes, as well as the changing face of the global economy.

Throughout 2020 many businesses had to adapt their talent model and reduce fixed overheads in order to remain sustainable. Conversely, other organisations have had massive increases in labour requirements but are not able to commit to an ongoing contract. 

This is where the use of the temporary, casual or gig workers is fast becoming the employer’s go-to choice. Most organisations will now use a mix of temporary and full-time employees. The result is a more responsive, productive workplace and a flexible job market.
The good news is the candidate pool is quite extraordinary now. Many people have moved to the flexible short-term contract and temporary arrangement because they are either between perm roles or by choice to expand their resume by industry and skills or simply that the COVID experience has given them pause for thought and they now want to embrace a more flexible work life/balance.

So what are the benefits of a temporary hire to the employer?


The first and for many most important aspects of the hiring model is the cost. The cost of hiring temp workers even with the agency fee is generally cheaper than the cost of hiring permanent employees. Depending on your on-cost structure the breakeven point is generally under 6 months.

Coverage for extended breaks

With the borders opening up and the chance of domestic and some international flights on the agenda from mid 2021 there is every chance that you will have a lot of applications for annual leave and perhaps extended annual leave in late 2021. 


Temps are generally qualified employees who can add value pretty quickly. They can fill the gap when you have unexpected or temporary demands, seasonal or peak periods, special projects, employee shortages, not to mention sick leave and extended leave coverage. Generally most temps either work on a 1 day to 1 week notice period as well.

Try before you buy

Using a temp is a cost-efficient way to recruit and test the abilities of new workers and their cultural fit before making a long-term commitment. Hiring a temp can also be a good way to continue getting work done while you search for the right candidate for a particular job.

The increased capability and thought leadership

Temporaries are the perfect solution when you have a higher skills requirement to drive a piece of work or a project and you don’t have the budget or need for this type of worker long term. This is where the gig economy worker has become the staple go to person to supplement the team, bring in higher level skills or drive a short term initiative. Think how much you could get done with access to a Senior HR Director just for a few weeks.

Keen to learn more. Speak to one of our team about how temps can help your business.

about the author

Jeannette Lang - General Manager VIC/TAS/SA

Jeannette has over 20 years experience as a senior HR leader. With a strong network (nationally and internationally) of HR practitioners she is focussed on the placement of senior and executive HR professionals.

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