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Another Take On Temp Jobs

September 24, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 39

After working several temp-to-hire jobs, I saw the article “Temps Wanted,” which asserts that staffing companies are beneficial to industry and new graduates (C&EN, Dec. 12, 2011, page 41). My experience, however, has been contrary.

When I applied directly to a company, I was handed over to a hiring agency to cover the background check and drug testing, but the agency never checked up on me. In addition, when I was ill, I had no paid sick leave and barely made enough to cover living expenses. A few days before my contract expired, I was laid off with no notice and had been misled three weeks prior that the company would be happy to hire me. The temp agency had no backup jobs available, nor did it have anything months later when I followed up with them.

From what I’ve heard, agencies make 15–35% on your salary (meaning their client could hire you permanently for at least your current pay rate). In addition, some agencies require the client to “buy” the contractor for a headhunter fee of $5,000–$20,000 to convert the contractor to an employee. Europe has laws requiring contractors to be treated as regular employees after four months, with equal benefits and commensurate pay.

ACS needs to reconsider temp agencies and to advocate for its members. Moving every three to 12 months when a contract expires, as well as not being treated equally with coworkers, is mentally and financially exhausting.

By Emily Bloom
San Lorenzo, Calif.

C&EN is working on a story about chemists and other chemical scientists who are working and living far away from their home and family due to the state of the job market. If you are in this situation and would be willing to share your story, please contact Susan Ainsworth at by Oct. 4.


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