A Labor Market Trend Toward Temporary Work Can Cause You  Problems with Collecting Unemployment Benefits 

There are those who appreciate the idea of being able to find temporary work.   It gives them a sense of freedom when they are not opposed to the income uncertainties that come with it.  The feeling of having choice about when and who you work for likely comes from the fact you can accept, or refuse a temporary work assignment without concerns about unemployment laws requirement to accept and not refuse suitable work.

But if income uncertainty is a problem for you as it is for many using the temp employment vehicle to  find a permanent job,  you may be disappointed to learn having a supply of contingent workers is the bread and butter of a temp staffing agency business .. primarily based on farming out it's own employees as contingent workers to those who don't want the headache, or the additional cost of hiring it's own permanent employees.

According to surveys conducted by and for HR professionals .. the trend toward hiring temps is not going to go away, but is expected to grow.  

They've even coined a new term for you, "on demand workers".

If your only reason for beginning your temporary career was because you choose to work to survive, or so you wouldn't have to rely on unemployment benefits from a claim you were found eligible for benefits on, or because you believed you would come out the other end as a permanent employee of one of your staffing agency's clients,  I for one, would be surprised if you did not have questions about unemployment for temp workers after your employer (the staffing agency) protested your right to benefits.

 Temporary Work Warning

From the perspective of unemployment benefits, there is no other type of employer, that has as many downsides for people used to the way the terms and conditions of regular permanent employment works that lead to you now as a temp employee being regularly and erroneously,  denied unemployment benefits because those benefits will be charged to a temp agency.

The fact is .. when you're a temporary worker .. you're employer is the agency which supplies it's contingent workers to a client you're on temporary assignment (loan?) to.

Despite a verbal promise a temp assignment would lead to permanent employment with the client .. you should know, a temp recruiter doesn't have the authority to make that call, so when things don't work out .. and a temp assignment ends, it's just good to know that you are still the employee of the temp agency.

Unlike, kind-hearted and socially moral  "Dave", a small temp agency portrayed as hoping everyone he helped would end up permanently employed .. would be an anomaly in the world of temp agencies today.

In the real world, temp/staffing agencies, are at the bottom of creation of SUTA dumping laws.   

Imagine that .. it's illegal when any employer pegs out their unemployment tax experience rating, to close their business and open a new one .. under a different name for a lower unemployment tax rate.

However, in the world of big business, when one door closes it's likely time to hire some lobbyists to get special provisions added to state unemployment laws and definitely time for some new and imaginative HR strategies that can deny claims whether used rightly, wrongly, or indifferently to the actual merits of the claim for benefits. 

Protecting Your Right to Unemployment Benefits During and After a Temporary Assignment

Given I must concede there likely are a few Dave's out there, it does nothing to diminish my mistrust of temp agencies overall when it comes to how and why they respond to claims .. the way they do.

So, I think it would be wise to for every temp worker to be aware of a crucial .. I repeat, CRUCIAL  and beneficial practice of documenting and counter-documenting all "talks" you have with a temp recruiter about your objections to accepting an assignment, or problems you're having on an assignment because of the client and definitely when you are required to notify the staffing agency recruiter about the end of the assignment .. even if they were the one  to tell you when it would end.

Believe me, there is nothing like an email sent to verify you understood what was said in a conversation .. to add weight to your testimony at unemployment appeal hearing .. especially when the employer's first hand witness testifies .. " I can't recall that conversation".

An email alone can save you from these special temporary worker voluntary quit provisions.  (See Table 5-7.)


It is especially useful for documenting your actions and the employers by following up with your understanding of any verbal conversations.

 Just clarifying you understood what was told you on a phone call in a document called an email,  can be used to rebut testimony you failed to contact for additional temporary work.

Not accepting an additional assignment because you thought it was not  suitable work can be an issue of UI law used by a temp agency to protest your return to collecting benefits for for what is a legitimate lack of work claim.

Say after you contacted them for an additional assignment like the one you began with only to learn the new one pays half what you had been making and has nothing to do with your prior experience and training, or education.

When the client of the temp agency decide you're not the right temp for them .. misconduct may very well become the issue and reason for protesting why you shouldn't be allowed to start collecting benefits again. 

The primary problem with this protest, however, becomes a question of whether they can sustain the burden your actions were misconduct without direct testimony from an employee of the client company.

My experience with how temporary staffing companies protest temporary worker claims does not just come from coordinating unemployment hearings for them .. but my personal experience working through one for my former employer .. for nearly three years.

They fought my benefits all the way to the board of review saying I had quit the temporary  assignement  without good cause.

They failed to rebut my fulfillment of the burden to prove I did indeed have good cause to quit the assignment and that is what made there refusal to give me any other assignments .. a discharge for something other than misconduct.

I might  be a non-attorney, but unlike Dave, I have a ton of cynical common sense that tells me it is what we don't know about how unemployment work and what states and employers can and do to take advantage for their own benefit .. that can hurt us the most.

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