Growing economy calls for temporary workers

By Richard Snowden

As the DeKalb area and its economy continue to grow, temporary labor is becoming increasingly important for local companies.

Kay Robinson, branch manager at Furst Staffing in Sycamore, said although it is difficult to offer an exact figure due to rapid growth in the area economy, a sizeable number of local companies utilize temporary labor.

“Probably about half of the local companies use some kind of temporary staff,” Robinson said.

Marvin Barnes, plant manager at Sycamore Containers, a local manufacturing company, said temporary workers are a vital element at his company.

“Temporary labor is very important to our business,” said Barnes, who estimated that roughly 25 percent of the company’s industrial labor force consists of workers from temporary staffing services.

Barnes said all of the temporary employees at Sycamore Containers are there on temp-to-permanent assignments, where a temporary worker graduates to full-time employee status at the host company after working there for a specified number of hours.

“We do some hiring directly and some through temporary services,” Barnes said. “All temp workers at our facility are on temp-to-permanent assignments.”

Robinson said temp-to-permanent assignments are prevalent at her company as well.

“We place a lot of our people into what we call first-to-hire positions,” Robinson said.

Furst Staffing employees on such assignments become eligible for hire at the host company after working there for 500 hours.

“There are also early conversions employers can utilize to hire our workers prior to 500 hours, which involves an extra fee for our company,” Robinson said.

Debi Moss, staffing consultant at Burton Placement Services in Sycamore, said many of the employers her firm works with rely heavily on temporary laborers.

“In the last six months or so, temporary labor has gotten even more important [in the area],” Moss said. “We actually have a lot of clients that will not hire except through a temp service.”

Moss said that temporary workers’ wages can vary greatly by job, but generally fall in the range of $6.50 to $12 per hour at Burton.

“We find that nowadays, the more high-end jobs, the $12 per hour jobs, tend to be clerical rather than industrial,” Moss said.

Although wages may vary between assignments, many temporary labor services offer benefits comparable to those of regular employers to its temporary employees.

Robinson said Furst offers its temporary laborers benefits such as holiday pay, vacation time, medical insurance, dental insurance and a 401(k) plan, many of which are made available to temporary workers after 500 hours of work.

At Burton, some of the benefits offered to temporary workers are made available to them immediately, Moss said.

“Once we put an employee to work, they can sign up for [health] insurance,” Moss said. “Our insurance goes month to month, so as long as they work one hour in one month, they’re insured for the next month.”

According to Moss, many clients like the convenience of temp-to-permanent laborers.

“[Host companies] aren’t paying Illinois employee taxes, they’re not paying worker’s compensation insurance, they’re not paying unemployment if the person is laid off,” Moss said. “So even though they’re paying a little bit more to get the employee, they’re still saving tons of money because they don’t have those problems.”