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"Contract" vs. "Temp"?

"Contract" vs. "Temp"?

"Contract" vs. "Temp"?

(OP)
"Contract Engineer" is a term that gets tossed around a lot, and, as I understand it, it's supposed to be when you're a professional engineer and you contract with a customer to perform particular task, and a particular time frame. It's like one business contracting with another. To not finish the task would be unethical.

Then there's "Temp work", when not applied to engineering, is just regular work, not particularly well paid usually, that's not going to be permanent and might or might not have a particular endpoint. No one expects you wait until those jobs end if something better comes along, and will generally be happy you found something, but if you take this kind of work and apply it to engineering, apparently you're expected to continue working until the customer's (employer's) need is fulfilled? Then be unemployed again (from which situation it's always harder to find permanent employment). The only time I was considering a "contract" type position (which seemed more like a "temp" position), they seemed very happy with my skill set, then asked if I planned to stay to the end of the time period, and I honently said I'd still be looking for something permanent, of course, and that queered the whole deal.

Is staying until the end of "contract" expected and typical practice when doing "contract" work through an agency, or are they asking a stupid question and shouldn't be surprised at a stupid answer?

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

If the job is for a specific time period, you are expected to stay for all of it.
All parties understand that you will be looking for your next gig while executing this one, including the next prospective employer, so you can negotiate with a known start date.

There may or not be an actual contract, but you must act as if there is. That includes arriving on time, respecting the rules, not being a PITA, not abusing break time, and reporting your activities honestly. It does not include working overtime for free.

On the bright side, even if the job is terrible, it's for a known finite duration.

On the other bright side, you are a noncombatant in office politics, so you can (and should) just ignore all the machinations.

On the other other bright side, you usually get better pay than equivalent direct employees.

Avoid the 'temp to perm' jobs where they pay a direct rate, or less, for a temporary position. The low rate provides no incentive for them to offer you a direct job with benefits, and they usually won't; they will just string you along until you wake up.



Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

Ok my 2 cents worth , contracter or contract engineer to me, means you supply the expertise from your office, for a finite period of time, you may or may not work on the customers premises , they do not control your hours.
Temp work ,or job shopping as it is otherwise known . You work through an agency who collects your time sheets and bills the customer for your labor , they pay you, they also provide health benefits. ,however the customer controls your hours and access to the premises. When the period of labor is up , you go back to the temp agency who re assigns you, if they have work to do so , these companies very often pay a bonus for staying on to the end of a contract, because of the fact that a large number of well qualified participants will bail right before the end of the contract.
Temp to hire is the worst abomination out there, ostensibly it is so an employer can look at you and your talents , then decide if they want to hire you. These agencies are very often the lowest of the low they do not offer benefits , they will tell you the employer will do that when they make you permanent , of course the job ends before that ever happens .
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

It's probably not germane for engineers, but the label "contractor" has a radically different meaning than "temporary employee." The latter gets whatever protection there might be under labor laws, while the former does not.

Whatever label you get, you have entered a contractual obligation when you sign the paperwork and start work. If you don't ever care to work again, then violating the contract is easy; otherwise, you have a legal obligation to complete the terms of the contract.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

Back in the day.....they use to call them "shoppers" (i.e. through a job shop like Aerotek). I've done that work myself. (The market I work in has a lot of EPC firms that use them when the backlog gets heavy enough.)

Quote:

Is staying until the end of "contract" expected and typical practice when doing "contract" work through an agency,.....

It's expected (whether you are contract, temp, or whatever you want to call it). One of the very first things I would ask in the interview is: what kind of commitment are you looking for in terms of time? Answering that keeps everything honest from the get-go. (And I always kept that commitment.) It's also worth mentioning that most contract job ads will mention the expected duration.

The "temp-to-perm" situation gets tricky. Some people are not honest enough to admit that the "perm" part will never come and you are only there until the backlog runs out. Then again, I've known people who were contract with companies for more than 20 years (including department heads).

It just varies from company to company.

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

Did a 6-month contract-to-perm once... once. Never again. It was 18 months before they took me on as a perm employee, and that was only after serious complaining near the end. Left a year after that when they shipped all real embedded engineering work out of house. In essence, I lost 18 months of perm benefits (401k matching and the like), among other things, I can never get back. Others may have better luck...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

(OP)
Ok, I believe I understand. It's a binding contract. So that means if they let you go before the end of the agreed period, they still owe you your full compensation, correct?

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

Quote:

Ok, I believe I understand. It's a binding contract. So that means if they let you go before the end of the agreed period, they still owe you your full compensation, correct?

Not in any contract job I've ever seen. Every place I've ever been the "contract" part is just an expression used (for a implied duration). Furthermore, I live in a "at-will" employment state where you can be cut loose at any time for any reason (as long as it's nothing discriminatory).

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

Temp is offensive to some folks so most today are "on contract" even if they're just a temp. To be fair, an engineer would point out that we all are just temps in one fashion or another.

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

Quote:

To be fair, an engineer would point out that we are all just temps in one fashion or another.

Quite true. We use to say that the only difference between direct and temp was "two weeks [notice]".


RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

(OP)

Quote (WARose)

Quite true. We use to say that the only difference between direct and temp was "two weeks [notice]".

I suppose not even that because they can just walk you out, but you do get health coverage.

RE: "Contract" vs. "Temp"?

At my last company, they got into so much trouble with perceived gaming of "plant closing" regulations that for a while, they were giving 6 month notice. That gave people plenty of time to find new digs, resulting in an additional cost for retention bonuses that were needed to actually complete project transfers to a different division. That was a VERY lucrative year for someone in aerospace & defense...

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

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