One of the questions that comes up at staffing agencies Calgary area firms is: what is the difference between freelancing and temping? What are the similarities between the two categories, and what are the differences?

Pay Rates

Freelancers have to negotiate a number of factors in their employment agreements. First and foremost for most freelancers is the pay rate, something that should be much higher than a pay rate for a permanent position since most contractors are responsible for their own taxes, benefits and retirement account contributions. Those working for a temporary agency get to select from the temporary jobs available, based on the job requirements and their skills, the job’s time frame and its contract rate. There isn’t nearly as much negotiation on the terms of the employment agreement, but much more selection regarding the terms because the worker can pick which position they want to fill. The pay rate is part of the contract, and after the employment agency takes their percentage, the pay rate is typically market rate if not higher. The pay rate between temping and freelancing tends to be comparable after taxes, but working for a temporary agency can result in a better pay rate for those who don’t negotiate their pay rates well.

Getting Paid

Freelancers sometimes negotiation based on the project without a clear payment schedule, fighting for payment for time spent on a project that the customer considers not good enough. Or they fail to require progress payments and wait eagerly for the final payment in the hope it arrives before their late bill payments lead to an eviction or utilities shut off. If the customer decides the work product doesn’t meet the contract, the result is a fight in court for the balance owed. There is no risk of being paid less than minimum wage for a temporary position, and the employment agency ensures that you are paid as they receive payment. Another benefit of working for a staffing firm is knowing that you are paid regularly, weekly or monthly, rather than waiting for a larger payment at the end of the contract that the customer may try to finagle.

Job Descriptions

The primary requirement of the freelancing contract is the scope of work or job description. Too many freelancers make the mistake of accepting an overly broad scope of work they cannot complete on schedule for the project amount, or they agree to job requirements they don’t fit, which hurts them when others call them for a referral. Employment firms are careful to make certain that they only send people who meet the job requirements to the companies that seek to fill positions through them. While this means that someone cannot take a higher paying contract that is a stretch of their skill set, they rarely end up called upon to complete tasks far beyond their abilities.


Freelancers are entirely on their own for arranging insurance above and beyond the Canadian health system, don’t have paid vacation or holidays and typically none of the benefits salaried workers enjoy. Those working through a staffing agency are sometimes eligible for benefits through the staffing firm. Contact one of the staffing agencies Calgary and its areas contain to find out if they offer paid vacation, holidays or sick leave, something you don’t get as a freelancer.