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I am currently on a contract job through a staffing agency, where the staffing agency is my legal employer and I'm on a contract with my job site. I've secured another job offer and will take it.

Which party should I notify first? I rarely interact with the staffing agency so it won't affect them beyond some paper work, but they are my legal employer. On the other hand, the job site company would be most affected, but they aren't technically employing me.

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    Why can't you notify both at the same time? – Kilisi Mar 12 '20 at 3:36
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    I rarely interact with the staffing agency so it won't affect them beyond some paper work, but they are my legal employer. I think this (incorrect) assumption is your biggest mistake and the reason why you're asking this. You're causing them to loose an employee and potentially a client. It's not as trivial as you're making it out to be. – dwizum Mar 12 '20 at 12:55
  • Oh, the staffing agency, no doubt of it, and PDQ. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 14 '20 at 3:40
  • Presumably you're not leaving for a direct competitor (in which case they will often escort you out immediately)? How long of a notice period do you contractually have? and how long do people typically serve out? It helps if you say the jurisdiction. – smci Mar 14 '20 at 9:08
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    It always sounds so cold and impersonal when I read about work experiences in other countries. In Germany, I've worked for two temp agencies, and they were caring for their temps to a point where it bordered on annoying. Regular visits, gift bags, regular questions if everything is fine. Anyway, how is your relationship with the people at work, and how is it with the agency? The formal notice should go to the agency first, but you might want to ask them if you can be the one to break it to your boss onsite. – kraligor Mar 14 '20 at 11:51
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Notify only the staffing agency.

They will want to control the messaging to the client, possibly line someone up to take over before telling them, and so on. They may well be rightfully angry at you if you tell the client directly. And the client doesn’t want to have to worry/think about it, that’s why they are using a contract firm. That is the professional norm.

They can then tell you if, when, and how they want you to communicate your departure to the job site company.

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    Check your employment contract/agreement that you signed. It is standard practice to include a clause stating you will notify them only. – Keltari Mar 12 '20 at 19:40
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    I would also ask the staffing agency to allow you to speak to the client about it (probably after they notify the client). You want to leave the client with a good impression of you, so talking to your "coworkers" and your "manager" is important. – Blueriver Mar 12 '20 at 23:08
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Notify the staffing agency

You don’t want to tell the company you are contracted to, have the boss there send off a hasty email to your company, and have your company be blindsided while you get stuck in a chat with a co-worker before you can tell them.

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    You're right. Absolutely the staffing agency must be told. Then you can ask the agency if you should be the one to let the client know, or if they'll handle it. – Gregory Currie Mar 12 '20 at 7:16
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Notify the staffing agency first, then let them decide how the company you're contracted to is notified.

Assume that the party who is told first, may inform the other party before you get a chance to do so yourself.

If you inform the company first and they inform the agency before you talk to them, your actual employer will hear that you will be leaving, not from you, but from somebody else. That is bad.

If you inform the agency first and ask them if and how to notify the company, you avoid your employer hearing it from someone else first. You also give them the opportunity to communicate with their client (the company you're contracted to) in a manner of their choosing. Perhaps they want to present another candidate right away. Perhaps their contract with the company is under negotiation and this will factor in. You don't know, so notify the agency, then ask them what your part in informing the company should be.

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I was in a similar situation where I got a contract job via a staffing agency in a large consultancy firm and via the consultancy firm I worked for another company.

Although I had a legal contract with the staffing agency, I first notified the consultancy firm because I wanted to keep a good relationship with them and I explained my reasoning for leaving.

The staffing agency was not really happy with it but I knew I was not going to work with them anymore (I was actually tired of being sold "via via" like a product and them profiting from my work). I knew that I may have some possibilities with the consultancy firm in the future though.

A manager in the consultancy firm left me with a recommendation and even contacted me later to see if I wanted to return.

I am convinced that if I had not done things this way, I would not have been able to keep the good relationship I have with the manager from the consultancy firm.

If I were you, I would determine first who is important to you or could be important to you, and take your action accordingly. As other answers have stated, if you are unsure, just talk to the one you have a contract with.

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    I suppose the politically correct course of action is to tell the agency first, but you are so right, you have to prioritize your work carrer in your own favour – PeterH Mar 13 '20 at 15:47

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