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Part-time Work

Work for a single employer that is regularly scheduled and ongoing but is less than fulltime — either for less than a full day, or less than five days a week, or for only part of the year (e.g., summer jobs for students). Part-time employees are usually not temporary workers, because part-timers generally work a regular schedule as a direct-hire on an ongoing, indefinite basis. However, some temporary jobs are for shorter weekly working hours and could be classified as part-time.


Long-term commitments focusing on “win-win” relationships between customers and suppliers (or among suppliers) that add value to both parties through increased sales, reduced expenses, and/or greater productivity.

Pay Rate

Direct compensation paid by the staffing agency employer to its temporary employee. May be paid hourly, daily weekly or monthly.

Pay When Paid Clause

A clause found in some MSP/RPO agreements through which the intermediary (MSP or RPO) has no obligation to pay sub-vendors (staffing suppliers) unless and until the end-user (buyer) settles its own invoices. Pay When Paid Clauses are popular with buyers as it enables them to simplify their invoicing procedures and provides them with “one throat to choke” while the intermediary also gains – primarily from cash management opportunities. However, the concept is much less popular among sub-vendors, which often have no knowledge of whether the end-user has made a payment and is usually discouraged or prevented from having a direct dialogue with the end-user. Sub-vendors also suffer from this arrangement as it limits their ability to factor invoices and thereby finance their business.

Payroll Service

A segment of the Payroll/Compliance Industry, a payroll service is a business service that provides payroll processing, pay check writing, and payroll tax administration, for a fee. A payroll service is an administrative function provided on the basis that no co-employer or joint employer relationship exists. The service is usually provided by specialist payroll companies but can, sometimes, be provided by staffing companies for an administration fee.


An arrangement whereby a client recruits or otherwise identifies personnel whose services it needs and refers them to a (staffing firm) supplier, to be employed by the firm and assigned back to the client. In this case, the workers become, in effect, employees of the supplier providing the payroll services (also known as employer of record services). Payrolling arrangements usually involve a specific client function or position, not the whole or a significant portion of a client’s workforce as in a “PEO” relationship (See Professional Employer Organization). See also “Contractor Payrolling.”


Industry segment of the Workforce Solutions Ecosystem comprising a range of payrolling and compliance services. Payrolling and compliance services may be offered by one company or by separate companies.

Penetration Rate

Used in relation to temporary staffing, the term ‘Penetration Rate’ is the proportion of people working on a temporary basis through a staffing firm compared to total people in employment. In most developed staffing markets, the penetration rate is normally between 1.5% and 3%. The Penetration Rate is often used as an indication of the relative maturity of a national staffing market.

Per Diem

Daily living expenses paid to technical, travel nurses, or other skilled temporary or contract employees while they are employed at a distant location requiring housing away from home, or during a period while they are relocating. Can also refer to billing by the day (instead of hourly billing) or shorthand for nurses provided on a daily basis rather than a travel basis.


Short for permanent, usually permanent placement.


A colloquial expression used to describe long-term temporary workers who successfully sued Microsoft Corp. in the US, in a case that began in 1996. It is an amalgam of “permanent” and “temporary.” Microsoft eventually settled with plaintiffs for approximately $100 million. As a result of the high-profile nature of the case, many companies began looking at their temporary worker policies with much greater scrutiny.

Permanent Placement

The bringing together of a job seeker and a prospective employer for the purpose of effecting a traditional employment relationship, for a fee. Also refers to the process of arranging such a relationship. This term is now falling out of favor (in the US) because the use of “permanent” can connote a guarantee of employment that is generally misleading for a typical “at-will” employee. In the US, “Direct Hire” is more commonly used. (See also: Placement, Direct Hire.)

Phased Retirement

Gradual retirement brought about by the reduction of full-time employment commitments over a set period of time.


The act of placing a job applicant in a traditional, direct-employment role.

Place & Search

A service segment of the Staffing Industry that incorporates certain activities of staffing firms and executive search firms. The ‘Place’ part of the definition ‘Place & Search’ refers to the bringing together of a job seeker and a prospective employer by a third party staffing firm for the purpose of effecting a traditional employment relationship, for a fee. Also refers to the process of arranging such a relationship. This term is often substituted by the terms ‘direct hire’ (in the US) and ‘permanent placement’ (elsewhere). The ‘Search’ part of the definition ‘Place & Search’ refers to any one of a variety of unbundled sourcing research services provided by third-party executive search firms (sometimes referred to as ‘headhunters’) involving the identification of potential candidates at competitive firms, pre-screening, reference-checking, and other search-related research. ‘Search’ could also refer to the hiring activities undertaken directly by corporate recruiters, though our definition of ‘Place & Search’ refers exclusively to those services provided by third-parties.


The result of effecting a traditional direct employment relationship, usually used to describe a successful referral by an employment agency. “Placement” generally implies the marketing of applicants to employers, rather than the recruitment of applicants for a specific employer position.

Placement Agency

An employment agency that seeks to refer applicants seeking employment to employers seeking employees. A fee is charged either to the employer or the applicant (rarely) after a successful referral.

Placement Fee

The fee due to an agency when a referred candidate is hired by a direct employer, typically in the range of 15% to 35% of annual salary. Fee calculations are usually based on salary — one month’s salary, a fixed percentage (e.g., 20% of annual salary), or a percentage that increases with the salary level (e.g., 1% per thousand).

Placement Services

Services provided by a staffing service to an organization to locate a properly skilled employee with the ultimate goal of a traditional direct hire employer-employee relationship with the client; may include “temp-to-perm” services. (See also: Temporary-to-Permanent.)

Planned Staffing

Contracting for the regular use of temporaries to handle peak production periods, seasonal activities or special projects. May involve the supplementation of a customer’s traditional workforce, or the provision of a temporary workforce to handle a project that occurs periodically. (The concept of “Planned Staffing” differs from “Facilities Staffing” in that planned staffing refers to cyclical or intermittent staffing needs, while facilities staffing refers to the process of “planning turnover” in a continuous function. However, as might be expected, these terms are often used interchangeably.)


Portable Employer of Record

A US term for a business that provides employer-like services to independent contractors and freelancers, in exchange for a percentage of the fees collected. See "umbrella company" in the UK and the Netherlands.


Statutory cost in Spain. See Indemnification Payment.


Statutory cost in Italy. See Indemnification Payment.

Precarious Work

A pejorative definition used to describe non-standard forms of work including contingent work. A similar pejorative term also used occasionally is “Atypical Work.”


Statutory cost in France. SeeIndemnification Payment.

Preferred Supplier List (PSL)

A Contingent Workforce Sourcing Model (see definition) in which the provision of the majority of a contingent workforce is exclusively granted to a limited number of staffing providers, but more than one, at specified conditions. (See also: Primary Suppliers)

Primary Suppliers

Two or more suppliers that have the majority of a company’s staffing requirements distributed to them, in lieu of or underneath an MSP arrangement. They may be on-site and they may also be in a competitive bid situation or not. (See also: Managed Service Provider.)

Principal Model MSP

Refers to the standard contractual arrangement commonly found in the US and UK whereby the MSP acts as the Principal contractual (and payment) intermediary in relation to the supply by second tier staffing companies of temporary workers. They may also act as an intermediary in the supply of independent contractors/freelancers (whether though an agency or not) as well as SOW contractors. (See also: Agency Model MSP and Margin only Model MSP)

Process Outsourcing

Industry segment of the Workforce Solutions Ecosystem. Use of an outside business services vendor (and its supervised personnel), either on the customer’s premises or off-site at the vendor’s location, to perform a function or run a department that was previously staffed and supervised by the customer directly. (Sometimes, but not necessarily, limited to situations where some or all of the customer’s previous staff performing that function are hired by the outsourcing vendor. For our purposes, Process Outsourcing describes the use of an outside vendor to perform part or all of the role of a Human Resources department or a specific work output. Partial solutions would include Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) where a vendor takes on responsibility for an organization’s hiring requirements (to some degree) and Managed Service Provision (MSP) where a vendor manages an organization’s staffing suppliers. It could include outsourcing certain aspects of human resources (HRO) or outsourcing a whole work function/ department such as telesales, catering or security (BPO). Such outsourcing could be done locally or offshore and sometimes, but not necessarily, limited to situations where some or all of the customer’s previous staff performing that function are subsequently hired by the outsourcing vendor.

Professional Employer Organization (PEO)

A service segment of the Payrolling/Compliance Industry primarily used in the USA, a PEO assumes, via contract, a significant portion of employer responsibilities and associated risk for either part or all of a client’s workforce. In this situation, employees are typically employed by the PEO but work on an indefinite basis under the control and direction of the client organization. PEO arrangements can be similar to HR Outsourcing though it is distinguished by a direct employment relationship between the workers and the PEO firm. While this is not a familiar service outside the US, it is known in certain countries such as the Netherlands.

Professional Employer Services

In addition to assuming a significant portion of employer responsibilities for a client company’s workforce, additional services may include many human resource functions such as recruitment, drug testing, etc. However, the PEO does not have accountability or responsibilities in regards to output or results.(See also: Employee Leasing.)

Professional Staffing

A segment of temporary staffing that includes workers in IT/technical, engineering, accounting and finance, legal, sales and marketing, and managerial functions, among others. This segment contrasts to commercial (or traditional) staffing. While there is common consensus on how to categorize the highest and lowest skilled workers, there is a blurring of boundaries when it comes to medium skilled/ middle management roles. Within these categories (such as sales & marketing, nursing, social care, and HR), what some people call professional staffing, others might call commercial staffing. Such variation exists among the categories used by different national staffing associations to estimate the size and growth of their respective markets. (See also: Specialist Staffing.)

Project Management Fee (PMF)

A fixed monthly fee charged as part of a Recruitment Process Outsourcing contract and which covers all aspects of service delivery. A proportion of the fee is normally linked to performance via service-level agreements against pre-agreed targets to provide a risk/reward system. Alternative RPO fee models/components are a Success Fee (normally on a per-hire basis) and a Transactional Fee for miscellaneous services.

Project/Program Management Office (PMO)

This is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. In a contingent program, a PMO will be tasked with handling the day to day interactions between engagement managers, staffing suppliers and contingent resources as well as identifying opportunities for optimization of the program based on industry best practices. While most PMOs are provided by third-party managed serviced providers, many companies utilize internal teams as their PMO.


Pseudo-independence is false self-employment disguised to avoid paying employment taxes and social charges. The term has particular resonance in Germany (‘Scheinselbstständigkeit’) where new temporary labor legislation and collective agreements have made the use of temporary agency workers both more complex and more expensive, leading to the increased usage of independent contractors or freelancers. German unions are suspicious that many such independent contractors are, in fact, pseudoindependent.

Purchase Order

A pre-approval for spending on a specific product or service. Some organizations require the issuance and approval of a purchase order before a contingent worker may be employed.


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