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Unemployment and Temping

Q. I have been working for a temporary agency for the last 6 months, but I am unhappy with their performance. If I ask to sever my agreement with them, will that be considered "quitting" by the unemployment office? Can I just not respond to their offers of work, or is that considered "refusing"? The temp agency is only offering me jobs at $4.00 per hour less than I asked for (after me repeatedly asking them not to), and they often make errors getting job info and hours wrong, never giving me the person I ask for, etc. I don't want to lose unemployment, but I don't want to be a slave to these people either.

A. Temporary work can offer job seekers financial benefits and the opportunity to build experience. The structure of how temporary agencies work with temporary employees and the employers who hire these employees comes in a few formats. Some temporary agencies put employees on the agency payroll so the employer is actually the agency, though employees work at another company site. Other contract or temporary agencies place employees at companies, for a fee, and the company pays the employee directly.

In both instances, you are not obligated to accept an offer of a position from an agency, or work for wages you believe are unfair. Review the contract you have with the agency. Most contractual arrangement are for one position for a specific duration of time. They do not automatically extend or commit you to other jobs.

If you are not happy working with this agency, there are many others to consider. The compensation offered will depend on your skill set, and the kinds of opportunities the agency can present to you. You can work with multiple agencies and take the offer which appeals to you most, based on whatever criteria you have.

There is a great deal of information offered about whether or not you can collect unemployment after working at contract or temporary jobs. Review what the contract says will be provided in terms of benefits and review your pay check for contributions the employer has made. Unemployment benefits accrue based on these contributions over 52 weeks and not from employee deductions.

There is a comprehensive list of Q's and A's about eligibility for unemployment at www.mass.gov. The home page lists specific locations for related answers. Answers specific to personal circumstances are only determined after a claim is filed, which is also explained on the site.

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