Here are some informal definitions of terms that will get you “talking temp.”
Co-employment: A legal doctrine that applies when two businesses exert some control over an employee’s work or working conditions.
Contingent workers: Includes independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary-help agency workers and workers provided by contract companies.
Contract workers: Workers employed by a company that provides them or their services to others under contract. They are usually assigned to only one customer and usually work at the customer’s site.
Employee: Definitions vary by law and state, but generally it’s someone hired to perform work on a regular basis at the employer’s behest. Wages and employment taxes for employees are paid and reported to the IRS by the employer.
Independent contractor: Definitions differ under federal and state laws, but loosely speaking it’s a person or business that performs services for another person under an express or implied agreement and is not subject to the other’s control. Payments to independent contractors must be reported to the IRS on Form 1099. The contractor is responsible for paying his or her own employment taxes.
On-call workers: A pool of workers called to work as needed, although they can be scheduled to work for several days or weeks in a row, such as substitute teachers and construction workers. Not to be confused with doctors and others who have regularly scheduled work that might include periods of being “on call” to perform work at unusual hours. On-call workers may be employees or independent contractors.
Outsourcing or contracting out: Transferring management or day-to-day execution of an entire business function to an external service provider. Those working for an outsourcing company may be employees or independent contractors of the outsourcing company.
Temps: Generally refers to employees of a temporary staffing agency who perform work for a third party on a temporary or seasonal basis. Temps generally are “on call” with a staffing agency indefinitely, although their assignments at various workplaces are usually finite. The term may also refer to a full- or part-time employee hired directly to work on a specific short-term project or hired for a finite period, such as a retail clerk brought on board at Christmas.