Are you better off hiring temporary HR resource on an interim day rate or on a fixed term contract b

Without a doubt the market for HR interims has changed massively over the last 10 years that I have been recruiting into HR. I moved into HR recruitment from IT recruitment where contracting is still as buoyant as ever for those have taken this particular career choice. I used to place HR interims on very high day rates even if the role was not particularly specialist in nature. That is no longer the case and there has, in recent years, been much greater demand for people to join on a PAYE basis via a fixed term contract.

I think that one of the main reasons for this is that during the last recession, HR Directors came under pressure to tighten their belts. The impact on the HR interim day rate market was twofold. The recession put pressure on the day rates that were being paid but also the market was flooded with good HR people willing to take on fixed term contracts.

Typically, fixed term contracts have often appealed to ‘permanent’ HR employees that are in between jobs rather than career interims. As HR functions were put under pressure to do much more with less money, and HR Directors were asked to run much leaner and tighter ships, the market was flooded with permanent HR candidates looking for work.

In the space of about 6 months, the demand for contractors that only wanted to work via their own Ltd or umbrella companies diminished massively. Our clients became very aware that they no longer needed to pay high day rates to land good people. They could bring people in on salaries that were comparable (perhaps a little higher) than their permanent employees. This trend has remained largely in place to date.

There will always be some skill-sets where you will struggle to find good people on a fixed term contract basis. Often this will be with more senior HR roles or ones that are particularly specialist in nature such as reward, HRIS or TUPE/redundancy for example. For the more generalist vacancies, you can find a lot of good people willing to work on a fixed term contract but this is not always without it’s own challenges…

People working in fixed term contracts, for the most part, ultimately want a permanent job. They are not career contractors. If you are expecting someone to stay in your role for 12 months, then I would always advise trying to find a reward structure that will entice the individual to see the contract out. Some fixed term contracts will entice HR professionals with the opportunity of getting their foot in the door with a great business. Others might be attracted to what a specific project will do for their CV in the long-run. If a permanent job that meets all of these requirements and offers greater security comes along, then you risk losing them fairly quickly.

Day rate interims stake their reputation on seeing contracts through and are much less of a flight risk. Their rates are not as high as they used to be but they are likely to be more expensive. They often have more experience of delivering key projects and whilst you might pay more on a daily basis, it is worth considering whether you can bring a more experienced person in for 3 or 4 days per week. You will often find that they achieve just as much if not more than someone with less experience working full-time.

There is a lot to weigh up with no perfect low-cost solution. We are always happy to look for both types of contractor at the same time for our clients so that they can decide who best meets their requirements. We are happy to charge the same finder’s fee for either option so that we give an honest reflection of the market.

If you are looking for great HR people to help either with a project or you just need operational cover, we would love to help. You can contact me anytime via email –

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