How Much Should My Temporary Employee Cost – Calculating the Price

When it comes to managing the finances of a business, nothing is more essential than understanding and controlling your costs. One area where this is particularly important is in the realm of employee compensation. The cost of hiring temporary employees can vary significantly depending on a range of factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore what these factors are and how they can affect the cost of hiring temporary staff. 

While full-time employees have a fixed salary, the cost of temporary workers isn’t as straightforward. You need to consider multiple variables: agency fees, overtime costs, benefits, training, and taxes, just to name a few. This comprehensive guide will walk you through these considerations, providing you with the knowledge to make an informed decision about your temporary workforce expenses.

The Role of the Temporary Employee

The nature of the role that a temporary employee will fill plays a crucial part in determining their cost. The more specialized or skilled a role, the higher the cost of the temporary employee who fills it. Roles that require specialized education, experience, or certification, such as IT consultants or financial analysts, will often command a higher pay rate. 

In contrast, roles requiring less specialized skills, such as administrative or clerical positions, typically come at a lower cost. Understanding the skill level required for a role is a vital first step in estimating the cost of a temporary employee.

Agency Fees


Most temporary employees are hired through staffing agencies, which charge a fee for their services. The cost can vary significantly from one agency to another, and it’s often a percentage of the temporary employee’s pay rate. 

The agency fee can cover a range of services, including recruitment, background checks, and payroll administration. Therefore, it’s important to clarify what services are included in the agency fee to avoid hidden costs. Also, remember that it’s possible to negotiate agency fees, especially when hiring multiple temporary workers.

Overtime Costs

Overtime Costs

Temporary employees, like full-time employees, are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The rate is typically one and a half times their regular pay rate, and this can quickly add up. 

Plan your temporary staffing needs carefully to avoid unnecessary overtime costs. This might involve staggering shift schedules or redistributing workloads. Remember, overworking employees not only increases costs but can also impact productivity and morale.

Benefits for Temporary Employee

While temporary employees often don’t receive the full suite of benefits that full-time employees do, there are still some benefits costs to consider. Some companies choose to offer certain benefits to their temporary employees, such as health insurance or retirement contributions, either because of legal requirements or to attract higher-quality candidates. 

These benefits add to the overall cost of employing temporary workers. It’s also important to remember that any benefits provided to temporary employees must comply with employment laws and regulations.

Training Costs for Temporary Employee

Training Costs

Training is another cost associated with hiring temporary employees. The time and resources spent on training these employees to perform their jobs effectively can be significant, especially for more complex or specialized roles. 

It’s also worth noting that frequent turnover of temporary staff can increase training costs, as new employees need to be brought up to speed regularly. Having a robust and efficient training program in place can help mitigate these costs and ensure that temporary employees are productive as soon as possible.

Employer Payroll Taxes

As an employer, you’re responsible for paying certain payroll taxes for your employees, whether they’re full-time or temporary. These include Social Security, Medicare, federal unemployment tax, and state unemployment tax. 

While these taxes typically add a percentage to your overall payroll costs, they’re an essential consideration in the overall cost of hiring temporary employees. Ensure you understand your tax obligations as an employer to avoid any surprises.

Miscellaneous Costs

Miscellaneous Costs

Beyond the more obvious costs, there may be additional expenses associated with hiring temporary employees. These could include equipment or software licenses, transportation expenses, or even costs related to workspace accommodations. 

Although these costs might seem minor in isolation, they can quickly add up. Being mindful of these potential additional expenses upfront will help ensure a more accurate calculation of the total cost of employing temporary staff.

Cost of Turnover

The cost of turnover is another important factor to consider. If a temporary worker leaves before their contract ends, there may be costs involved in replacing them. These costs can include additional recruitment expenses, more training, lost productivity, and even potential negative impacts on team morale. Understanding the potential impact of turnover can help you strategize ways to retain your temporary staff, reducing these costs.

Cost of Non-compliance

Hiring temporary employees also entails complying with a host of employment laws and regulations. Failure to comply can result in fines, penalties, and even lawsuits. For example, temporary employees are entitled to the same protections against discrimination and harassment as permanent employees. It’s essential to ensure you’re compliant with all relevant laws to avoid these potential additional costs.

Comparing Costs: Temporary vs Permanent Employees

After you’ve taken into account all the costs associated with hiring temporary employees, it’s worth comparing these with the cost of hiring full-time staff.

While the hourly or daily rate for a temporary worker might seem higher than that of a full-time employee, remember that full-time employees come with their own set of costs – health insurance, retirement benefits, paid leave, and more. A cost-benefit analysis can help determine the most financially sensible choice for your business.

The Impact of Location

The location of your business and the local job market can significantly impact the cost of hiring temporary employees. Different states have different minimum wage laws, and the cost of living varies significantly across different cities. 

For example, hiring temporary employees in a city with a high cost of living, like San Francisco or New York, will be more expensive than in cities with a lower cost of living. Make sure to factor in the local market rates and living costs when budgeting for temporary staff.

Length of Assignment

temporary assignment

The duration of the temporary assignment also plays a role in determining its cost. Longer assignments might allow for the negotiation of lower daily or hourly rates, but they also mean a longer commitment to the other associated costs, such as taxes and benefits. 

Additionally, if a temporary assignment extends beyond an expected end date, it may lead to increased costs. It’s essential to define the length of the assignment as accurately as possible when hiring to avoid unforeseen expenses.

The Timing of Hire

The timing of hiring temporary employees can also impact the cost. During times of high demand, such as holiday seasons for retail businesses or tax season for accounting firms, the cost of temporary employees can increase due to the laws of supply and demand. 

Planning your hiring needs well in advance and hiring outside of peak times can help keep costs under control. Keeping a flexible hiring timeline, where possible, could be financially beneficial.

In-house Recruitment vs Using an Agency

a staffing agency

As we’ve discussed, using a staffing agency to hire temporary employees comes with agency fees. However, doing the recruitment in-house also has its costs. In-house recruitment involves costs related to advertising the job opening, time spent reviewing applications and interviewing candidates, and conducting background checks. Weigh these costs against the agency fees to decide which option is more cost-effective for your business.

The Impact of Your Employer Brand

Your employer brand – the reputation your company has as an employer – can also affect the cost of hiring temporary employees. A strong employer brand can attract higher-quality candidates, potentially reducing the need for extensive training or high turnover costs. 

Investing in your employer brand might involve initiatives to improve your company culture, employee benefits, or public relations efforts. Although these activities might come with their own costs, they can also lead to long-term savings by reducing your overall staffing costs.

Final Words

The cost of hiring temporary employees can vary widely based on the role, agency fees, overtime, benefits, training, taxes, and other factors. It’s important to consider all these variables to get a true picture of the overall cost. Understanding these costs will help you make an informed decision about hiring temporary employees. 

The right temporary workforce can help your business navigate peak periods, cover for absences, and even bring in specialized skills for specific projects, making it a flexible and valuable resource. With careful planning and budgeting, temporary staffing can be a cost-effective solution for many businesses.