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The Role of Temporary Workers and Their 'No-Frills Jobs'

July 02, 1988

Your lead article on temporary and contingent workers ("No Frills Jobs," Part I, June 15) makes some valid points about temporary workers but fails to address the many advantages that temporary work gives to these workers. Furthermore, the article does not give adequate recognition to the function performed by temporary services such as ours, particularly in specialized and technical job areas.

First of all, most of our temporary employees are between jobs. They may choose to work on a temporary basis for a number of personal reasons, one of which is that it gives them a chance to acquire additional skills or to hone their skills if they have been out of the job market for some time. Many employees seeking work through our temporary service are re-entering the work force after maternity or other personal leaves, experimenting in a new city after relocating, going through a personal career transition and simply want a "break" from the stress and strain of a permanent job, or are facing some other personal situation that prevents them from seeking permanent employment. For these workers, it is obviously better to be employed in temporary work than unemployed. The public benefits by having the employee work and, therefore, stay off the public welfare roles. In this sense, temporary workers are givers and not takers.

With an average assignment lasting two or three weeks, it is unrealistic to think that the temporary employee will receive benefits. Many of these workers are covered by a spouse's medical insurance or, because of the Federal COBRA legislation, have access to insurance coverage through their former employer. These employees know that they cannot expect to receive comparable benefits while working on short-term temporary assignments.

Unlike the implication in the article, many temporary workers are skilled employees placed in high-level positions. Our temporary service specializes in financial, accounting and data processing personnel--these are people who fill specialized jobs, which at times require a college degree. For the most part, the employer is seeking a temporary employee to alleviate the uneven work load that can result from vacation and disabilities of permanent employees and special projects. The employer is not seeking a way to permanently reduce his labor costs, but simply to smooth out fluctuations in workload. In this sense, the function of a temporary service is to make American business more responsive to increasing competition imposed by the international marketplace.

PAUL GILBERT

President, AccounTemps

Los Angeles

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