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Temporary vs Permanent Work, Which is Right for You?

Temporary vs permanent work. One of the ultimate employment conundrums. When it comes to deciding which type of work is right for you, choosing between temporary and permanent employment can be difficult, to say the least. It’s like choosing between meal prepping and committing to one meal for the week or popping into the shops every day on the way back from work and deciding on what to have when you get there.

Both have their benefits, and the type of role you ultimately choose will depend on several factors, including earning potential, stability, and flexibility, to name just three. Fortunately for you, that’s where we’re here to help! In this post, we’ll explore how to determine which option is right for you.  

What is Temporary Work?

As the name suggests, temporary work is carried out over a fixed period rather than indefinitely. It is – by its very nature – work that will end. Data from 2021 showed approximately 1.71 million temporary employees in the United Kingdom.  

There are a couple of types of temporary work from which to choose. Firstly, you can commence on a fixed-term contract; an example of this would be a nurse carrying out a 12-week contract, a six-month contract or a 12-month contract.  

The second option is what’s known as working on an ad hoc basis. These jobs are typically charged on an hourly or daily basis and over a much shorter period.

Temporary positions are also sometimes known as locum roles; locum comes from the Latin phrase locum tenens, which means “place holding”. That one’s for all you history nerds, out there!

Why Should You Consider a Temporary Position?

Temporary work brings with it many benefits, including:   

Greater Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages of temporary work is undoubtedly the flexibility it brings. You can pick contracts that work around your life rather than vice versa.

The Ability for People to Travel

When your work is limited to a few weeks or months, there’s less need to settle if you don’t want to.

This makes temporary work ideal for people wanting a more nomadic lifestyle or who like to experience a wider variety of working environments. If travelling the country or the globe is your goal, then temporary work provides the goalposts.

The Option of  Temp Work Turning into Perm Work

If a temp position goes well, it can often lead to more extended temp contracts or even a permanent position in some instances. Now, of course, this isn’t something that everyone wants.

After all, some people want temporary work to stay, well – temporary. However, if the temp worker is a good fit with the employer, then there’s no reason why that relationship can’t potentially extend further down the line.

Are there any Drawbacks to Temporary Work?

Temp work isn’t for everybody, with one person’s amazing flexibility being another person’s daunting instability. With temporary work, there’s much less salary stability, and when one temporary contract ends, the quest is on for the next one right away.  

There’s also potentially less scope for career progression with a temporary contract. Unlike permanent positions, which give you a solid footing from which to work your way up the job ladder gradually, temporary positions don’t offer the same foundation.  

That’s not to say that there’s no room for progression, however. As touched upon, short contracts can lead to longer contracts, which can, in turn, lead to even longer contracts. However, there’s less scope for progression (if such an opportunity exists) when an employer knows you will only be with them for a finite period. 

What is Permanent Work?

Unlike temporary work, which has an endpoint from the outset, permanent work is ongoing, with no end date in the employment contract. Such positions typically offer an annual salary that’s paid monthly.  

Permanent work is much more common in the UK than temporary work. As per data from, almost 95% of all working-age people (in 2021) were employed in permanent job roles.

What are the Benefits of a Permanent Role?

Just as temporary work has its benefits, so too does permanent work. The significant advantages of permanent work include:

Greater Job Security

If you ask anybody working in a permanent position why they chose that over a temporary role, the answer will be almost unanimous. Working somewhere indefinitely offers greater job security than working something for a fixed period.

If you work permanently for an employer, you can bank on the fact that, in a year and a half’s time, for example, you’ll still have a paycheck coming in at the end of that month. If you’re only working a three-month fixed contract, by contrast, then you’re having to work out where your income is going to come from almost as soon as you start the first job.

Scope for Career Progression

By working permanently somewhere, you’re laying down roots. The mightiest trees grow from the smallest of saplings, and they do so by planting their roots and letting them grow.

You can think of your progression through a company like the journey of a sapling into a mighty Oak. If you relocate the tree every few months, it’s less likely to reach the same heights.

Training Opportunities

If you work permanently for an employer, they’re more likely to invest in you as an employee, as you aren’t as likely to ship off somewhere else in the near future as a temporary worker will. This investment can take many forms, with training and development opportunities being one such area.

If we think of the permanent role as giving you that one, guaranteed sunny spot in the garden, then training opportunities can be thought of as the fertiliser or the watering can that’s needed to continually keep that growth going.

Are there any Disadvantages to Permanent Work?

If you’ve started in a permanent role, it’s less likely that you’ll be able to swap that for a temporary role in the same way that a temporary role can eventually lead to a permanent position with an employer.  

Reduced flexibility is another drawback of a permanent role. If temporary work is like renting a property, then permanent work is akin to buying your home. It’s less easy to move around when you buy compared with when you rent, and the same can be said for permanent work when compared with temporary.  

Temporary vs Permanent Work – Which is Right for Me?

Ultimately, when it comes to choosing temporary vs permanent work, this is only a decision that you can make. But by using the above as guidance, you should now have a better understanding of the options on offer and which style of work is more aligned with your goals and desires.  

If you love flexibility and the option to work in various places, then a temporary contract is probably best. By contrast, if you want greater job security and a potentially greater scope for career progression, then a permanent role could be what you lean towards.  


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