Temporary employees can add flexibility to the workplace. They may be essential for businesses that experience seasonal rushes. Temporary workers can also be used to fill positions when permanent employees are on leave. However, before a temporary worker is hired, it is important to understand the rules and regulations.

Federal Employment Laws

Many federal employment laws such as workers compensation and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) apply to both permanent and temporary employees. If the temporary employee is contracted through an employment agency, either the company where the employee performs his services or the agency is responsible for providing workers compensation insurance. If it is not provided, the employee can sue for negligence.


Temporary employees may be eligible for healthcare or retirement benefits. Under federal law, employees who work more than 1,000 hours over a 12-month period must be included in any pension or retirement plans that the employer has available.

Additionally, company policy may dictate that temporary employees are eligible for benefits. Many companies offer benefits to employees who have worked for three consecutive months. If a temporary employee fits this criterion, then they too are eligible for benefits unless the company policy says otherwise.

Legal Rights

Temporary workers have the same legal rights as permanent workers as far as discrimination, sexual harassment and equal pay claims. Both employment agencies and employers are responsible for ensuring that temporary employees are not discriminated against based upon their race, gender, religion, age, color or disability. Any harassment and discrimination policies and procedures that apply to permanent employees apply to temporary employees as well.