What are contract and temporary workers? Temp workers are short term employees often used to fill short term staffing needs – e.g. holidays, sickness, whereas contract workers are often strategically required specialists, often running special projects or assignments. Recently due to skill shortages and the desire to attract key staff, the use of especially contract staff has increased and is increasing.
Although temporary employees in general in Canada represent a relatively small number of overall employees, they have been growing at a faster pace than permanent employees during the past 20 years. Data from the Labour Force Survey show that 13.3% of employees (2.1 million) worked in a temporary job in 2018, up from 11.8% (1.4 million) in 1998. Over this period, most of the growth among temporary employees can be attributed to increases in the number of people with a term or contract job (https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/190514/dq190514b-eng.htm).
The use of temp or contract workers is increasing within the biopharmaceutical industry – certainly in Canada.
This has partly been ascribed to more women entering this industry over the past few years – thus companies are dealing with maternity leaves where contract replacements are common. Additionally biopharmaceutical companies have feast or famine years, wherein it is better to reduce fixed costs – hiring contract specialists obviates the necessity of high employee overhead commitments.
From the worker’s perspective,this form of insecure employment can offer an opportunity to enter the biopharmaceutical industry, to learn or hone specific skills, to grow a network, to evaluate a type of position or career, without a major commitment.
Companies are hiring contract sales, upstream or downstream contract manufacturing, legal, paralegal, accounting, quality, regulatory, scientific, clinical research, and other specialists as required in an effort to hire quickly and cut operating costs.
Also, a recent article explains how the new world of gig workers are taking over the life science industry (https://www.siliconrepublic.com/jobs/gig-economy-workers-life-sciences), at least in the USA. And while a Statistics Canada study shows that the share of the gig economy workers is increasing, some economists find this worrisome (
Hopefully companies can find an acceptable balance.
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