I did an interview recently which I thought was a permanent position as described by the recruiter who submitted me. When talking with the interviewer about the position, he stated it was a 3 month temp to hire. While doing my post interview with the recruiter, I asked if this was a 3 month temp to hire or Perm Placement, to which he replied "What is the difference." His reasoning is "You will work in the state of Maryland which is at will."

  • At-will employment is a term used in U.S. labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish "just cause" for termination), and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal.

I have googled the matter and found conflicting information, so my question is, is the a difference between X month temp to hire or Perm Placement in an at will state?

  • 1
    I suppose you are asking is the a difference between X month temp to hire or Perm Placement in Maryland... correct? Or in general terms?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 15:37
  • @DarkCygnus Maryland specific.or any at will state in the US. Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 15:38
  • What is your goal in determining this difference (if any)? Are you looking for ammunition to respond to the recruiter with? Are you looking for something legal? Is it just idle curiosity? As far as whether or not the recruiter has a valid point, it seems opinion-based to me. He says it doesn't matter, but does it matter to you? Only you can answer that.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 15:50
  • @Steve-O I am really asking as right now I have a full time job and would hate to leave for a 3 month temp to hire only to find out the contact would only be 3 months. Its a question as to you don't know what your don't know. I have done 3 month temp to hires before and what will normally happen is after the 3 months you go through another sudo interview, and they decide if they want to keep you or not vs a Perm placement which as long as you do your job you are ok. From a recruiting perceptive is there a difference between month temp to hire or Perm Placement? Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 15:58
  • I was a temp-to-hire employee in 1996. What happened with me is that a member of HR notified me that the company liked what I did and were going to hire me permanently. I accepted, and did nothing else; the temp agency and the company worked the other details.
    – bjcolby15
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 0:28

3 Answers 3


Note: I am not a lawyer. This information is for US and may vary by state and the terms of your contract.

Temp-to-hire starts you with a contract period after which the company will evaluate whether to hire you on for a permanent position. The company is not required to provide severance pay if they chose not to hire you on to a permanent position after your contract period expires. You also might not be eligible for certain benefits during your contract period such 401K matching, etc.

With a permanent position, you should have access to all employee benefits. If you accept a permanent position and the company choses to terminate you, they may provide severance pay, vacation/sick time buyout and etc. At-will refers to the fact that at any time, the company could terminate me. You do not have a permanently granted position of any sort. Similarly, you at any time may quit and leave the company.

Here is more information about severance pay:

  1. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/wages/severancepay
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severance_package
  • 1
    Do you have a reference to support the claim that companies are required to provide severance pay? Either way, it also varies by country / state, and it could very well depend on the reason for termination. Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 16:40
  • @Dukeling Noted. I just added a disclaimer to that this answer is focused on US and may vary from state to state and contract to contract.
    – jcmack
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 17:15
  • I'd like more info on this required severance pay. I've never heard that one before.
    – user41891
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 15:54
  • Here are two links about severance pay: [1]: dol.gov/general/topic/wages/severancepay [2]: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severance_package
    – jcmack
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 18:32

is the a difference between X month temp to hire or Perm Placement in an at will state?

Regardless of the state, and other laws that may apply, these two things are inherently different (disclaimer: IANAL).

Temp-to-hire you can think of it as some sort of "extended trial period", in which both you and your employer can see how things work out before proceeding with a permanent position. Temp-to-hire contracts are for a fixed time, usually months. Permanent contracts are, well, for an indefinite time.

However, in a practical sense, assuming that you are in an at-will state there would be indeed "no difference" when it comes down to any of the contracts being terminated. In both situations you can be cut without warning or for any non-illegal reason. This is why it may appear the same when considering this side.

Nonetheless, both things are different kinds of contracts, and it would be an understatement to say they are equal. Most of the times, Perm contracts have more benefits than temp-to-hire ones (possibly higher salary, full employee benefits, etc.).

...anyways, IMHO this could be a red flag, as it seems that this recruiter used this unclear description to make the offer sound more tempting for you to consider it. It is up to you if you now desire to continue pursuing this contract or you would be better searching for another one (perhaps one where they are 100% clear with what they offer).

  • Also not a lawyer, but I'd add that even in at-will states, companies are legally required to be consistent in how they let people go. All that at-will means is the company doesn't have a burden of proof for why they are right for firing you. There are still lots of protections against losing your job, where a temp position has none.
    – dbeer
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 19:01
  • yes @dbeer temp positions are more volatile than Permanent ones. Most benefits only come after you start as perm, like you said. Unfortunately, I think that the recruiter is "bending" this a bit for their benefit
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 19:04

In addition to the above excellent and correct answers (+1) ..

"What is the difference."

Is this an company recruiter or an independent recruiter? Either way this is a very basic part of a recruiter's job description to get the parameters of the position correct, and my knee-jerk reaction is this is a very sloppy or less then transparent recruiter that you should consider getting EVERYTHING in writing for this gig, and avoid in the future.

(Disclaimers: IANAL and my only knowledge of the state of Maryland is the acronym SMIB.)

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