Etiquette in quitting a temp job?
March 3, 2009 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Answers to a previous question note that it's probably OK to cut and run from your run-of-the-mill temp job. But given that I know exactly when I want my last day to be, is it worth giving at least a little bit of prior notice?

I'm obviously not that important. But should I give some notice to my staffing agent, at the very least? Employment is at-will, and my main concern is that they'll let me go the second they find out about my intent. I don't want to miss out on that last week or two of work -- and pay.

But at the same time, am I going to annoy someone at the temp agency if I only quit a day or two before? I'm filling one of dozens of the same temp-to-hire (the agency knew I wasn't going to be permanent) clerical position at the same company at the same facility in the same room, and I haven't seen anyone come and go for about a month now, given that new-hire training takes a few days. But I might want to go back to the same staffing agency (and maybe the same agent) for another job in the next few months. I really like this agency, despite the fact that it's, you know, an exploitative agency.

Would my last-second dash from my current job jeopardize those future opportunities (many are similarly temp-to-hire), or do staffing agents really care that little about temporarily flaky people like me?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total)
It's risky. The staffing agency probably has dozens of people lined up to take the position you'd be vacating, in this economy. That said, I did give notice to my supervisor at a long-term temp position one time. In fact, I let her know long before the staffing agency, and I had no negative repercussions. However, I think this was an anomaly.
posted by sugarfish at 6:09 AM on March 3, 2009

Also, the project I was vacating was winding down, anyway. (It was at a seasonal call center.)
posted by sugarfish at 6:09 AM on March 3, 2009

Oh, God, you should ALWAYS tell your staffing agent. ALWAYS.

It honestly would be highly unlikely that you would be let go out of spite if you gave your employer advance notice, too; think about it, if they let you go right away, they'd have to go through the hassle of training a new person. But if they kept you for those two weeks, they woudn't have to (and they may even ask YOU to train that new person so they won't have to). It makes more sense for them TO keep you. But if you still are uncertain, ask your temp agency what you should do.

but you should ALWAYS tell your staffing agent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on March 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think you're probably safe giving them a lot of notice. You're trained now, you'll be better at the job in your last two weeks than a new hire would be for those same weeks, so I don't see an advantage in them replacing you early.

We recently had a woman from Kelly services filling a temp job, knowing from day one that she would be leaving for another job in two months, but everyone was just happy to have a qualified person getting through the work.
posted by saffry at 6:46 AM on March 3, 2009

At the temp jobs where I've worked, walking off a job without giving notice would not just be annoying, it would be grounds for the agency to fire you/not call you again.
posted by amethysts at 7:20 AM on March 3, 2009

Tell your staffing agent about your plans, and work with him/her about when and how to give notice to the company where you are working.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:51 AM on March 3, 2009

If you want to use anyone at the staffing agency or the client company as a reference later on down the road, and especially if you think you'll use that agency again, it's best to give both of them at least the standard two weeks' notice.

I've always erred on the side of giving more notice rather than less, sometimes as much as a month, including for the handful of temp positions I've left for better opportunities. So far I've always been able to decide my last day, and I have never been cut loose before then. It can happen, of course, and temp agencies aren't always acting in your best interest, but I think it's very unlikely.

Additionally, all of the long-term temp positions I've taken have involved an interview process comparable to interviewing for a "real" job - companies generally do care about finding a temp that will be a good match. I don't know if that's the case with your company, but even if not, it's likely that you're not a freely-replaceable butt in a chair, and the company will appreciate the additional time to select another temp that they think will fit in well.

It also wouldn't hurt to tell your agent that you're considering using them again in the future. If you have a record of doing good work and have a good relationship with the agency, and if they think you'll be available for future assignments or have friends you can refer to them, they're likely to treat you well so you'll want to work with them instead of one of the other zillion temp agencies out there.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2009

I've given notice at a long-ish term temp job before [with a not-insignificant training time], and was immediately replaced.

It wasn't what I expected to happen, and I'd probably give notice in that situation again, because I apparently prefer being polite to having money.
posted by Acari at 8:57 AM on March 3, 2009

I've given notice at a long-ish term temp job before [with a not-insignificant training time], and was immediately replaced.


it would be grounds for the agency to fire you/not call you again.

Oooh no, not that!! Flakiness and unethical conduct is the norm in temp work, sometimes from the workers, but always always always from the people working at the agencies. I think there are dozens of agencies throughout the east and west coasts who have me on their "don't call again" list- because the people at the job took a random dislike to me and fired me, because I had the gall to ask for slightly more money for me out of their 60% cut, because I got upset when what they told me was my first day of work was really an interview (true story, happened more than once!).

I would give a few days notice, maybe the Tuesday of your last week. No one could reasonably be upset with that from a temp. worker. The agency will probably need a few days to find someone new, and at the very worst, you'll lose 3 days of pay.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:40 AM on March 3, 2009

I was always upfront about it when I knew I was leaving somewhere and when: I was never asked to leave summarily as a result. Often I was politely asked for an extension if they needed me to train someone in. Temps aren't expected to stick around forever. If you quit a job without forward notice you will burn down your relationship with your agency. Give them two weeks if you can.
posted by nanojath at 11:04 AM on March 3, 2009

If you have another (non-temp agency) job lined up, then don't give them notice. Temp Agencies are the scum of the earth, and they are using you.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:06 AM on March 3, 2009

The temp to perm bit about this assignment complicates things. Even so, I'd give them a couple of days notice.

I definitely wouldn't wait until the morning of. It isn't uncommon, but you want the temp agency to think of you as a reliable, considerate temp that they can depend on to behave like an adult (and give them time to find a replacement/talk to their candidate). How perm is the temp to perm bit? Any chance that the place you currently work is so smitten with you that they might offer a firm contract or a perm job?

But yes, they are scum - you don't really owe them much more than a few hours notice. Trust me, if you even called them the afternoon before and told them that they'd need to find a replacement for you, you'll be remembered fondly for your next assignment.
posted by Grrlscout at 1:22 PM on March 3, 2009

Check your contract with the staffing agency. I'm sure it clearly states that you must inform the staffing agency of your intention to leave. I'll bet it explicitly states that you should not give notice directly to the client/employer. Your staffing agency will want to control the situation. They will want to "give notice" for you, on their schedule, and replace you with one of their own people.

If you give notice directly to the client/employer, another staffing agency could swoop in and fill the position. That would be a serious loss to your agency.

If you are concerned about being dismissed too early, give a short notice (one or two days), before you need to to leave. Tell them: "My new employer needs me to start on March 12. I would like to work at my temp job through March 11."

A short notice may inconvenience people, but you have to protect yourself. It's most likely that everyone will understand that you need to go to a better opportunity.
posted by valannc at 7:18 PM on March 3, 2009

Yes, well -- it's a tough call.

My contract clearly said that I was not expected to give notice (nor could I expect it, of course) and so I didn't, when I suddenly was recruited for a job paying almost a third more, and walking distance from my house. I put together a training manual -- with screenshots! -- for my replacement, and emailed it and my profuse thanks to my supervisor at the job the day I left. My recruiter called and threw a fit, and said that, though the contract said no notice, everyone knows you have to give notice, and that I would not be able to work through that agency ever again. OK, fine. But then -- the new job rather spectacularly did not work out, and a month later was interviewing to replace me. Oh crap. So I called my old supervisor at the temp gig, and luckily she was cool and said I could come back. She asked for me from the agency, and while the agency recruiter was sure to tell me how very wrong I had been to contact the client myself, etc, I was hired back to the temp gig.

Another time I did give notice -- a different agency -- and was immediately replaced. Which was what I had been trying to avoid.

I think the moral of the story is to talk to your job supervisor, NOT the temp agency. All of the literature the temp agency gives you tells you specifically to talk to them, NOT your job supervisor, of course, but that is only because they want to screw you.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:06 PM on March 3, 2009

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