What Would We Do without Her?

By Cottee, Penny | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

What Would We Do without Her?


Cottee, Penny, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: PENNY COTTEE

Office temps have at last achieved the recognition that they are not only essential to the smooth running of the office, but keep Britain's economy ticking over too

THIS is a special week for temporary office administrator Jean Seddon.

On Friday she finds out whether she has won a nationwide award celebrating the contribution of temps to UK businesses. "I never thought I would stand a chance," says Seddon, one of three finalists for the One in a Million title.

"I am so delighted!"

The annual award was launched three years ago by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), together with Temp Week, which is being held this week. Both initiatives were set up to put the spotlight on the hidden army of one million temporary workers beavering away in companies every day.

"We wanted to show the huge value temp workers bring," explains Marcia Roberts, director of external relations for the REC, "and to celebrate those who make an outstanding effort."

Seddon herself is 75, and in the 16 years she has worked for Stanley Staff in Ellesmere Port, she has completed 161 administrative, secretarial and receptionist assignments for 32 companies. Agency staff pay tribute to her unfailing willingness to help out, even cancelling her holiday on one occasion to rescue a regular client.

Although offered permanent positions, Seddon resolutely sticks to temping.

"I have time to enjoy with my family, doing exercise, and charity work," she says.

This is clearly a lifestyle choice, and, according to Marcia Roberts, it is increasingly common. "No longer just filling a gap while jobhunting, many of today's workers choose to temp."

So why are these workers tempted by temping? "They enjoy the flexibility to determine when they work," says Roberts.

Workplace culture has shifted, too, and temps' benefits packages are more attractive, offering sick and holiday pay.

But perhaps the key to the rise of "career temps" is that you no longer have to compromise on your career. …

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