I worked for a Temp Agency and they are fighting my unemployment benefits

Updated : August 10th, 2022

Temporary Jobs

Posted by Heidi (Chicago, IL)

Hi, I was working through a temp agency for 2 months and on a Thursday they called me 10 minutes after I got off work and told the “assignment was ended”. The next day they called and left me a message and I called them back within 15 minutes and they said they had a position for me, but had already called someone else and filled it. I filed for unemployment and the temp agency is fighting it stating that I did not “check in properly”.

I called the temp agency and they said that I was to call within 48 hours of stopping my job and I was to check in every Monday and said that now it is every Monday from 9 to 12. They did not tell me this when I hired with them that if I was laid off I had to call within 48 hours and that I had to call every Monday and check in. They told me when they called to tell me the assignment was over that they would keep me in mind for any other positions that opened up and they would call if something came open. Will I be denied unemployment because of this? I think this is kind of a sneaky thing for them to do. I am suppose to have an interview with a representative from the unemployment office. Please help.

Hi Heidi,

I changed the title to more accurately reflect what you are asking.

Temp agencies rarely “tell” you that you have to call them within 48 hours, but I’ll bet you that when you signed on, one of those forms you put your signature on tells you that.

But, I am not aware nor could I find an Illinois “temporary worker provision” other than an act which protect day laborers.

So, what are your options?

Tell it just like you told me. Unlike a state that does have a temporary worker provision, which finds that if you don’t call within 48 hours for another assignment you will be considered to have “voluntarily quit, Illinois doesn’t seem to control this issue by statute.

And in fact, you did call them back for an assignment and they did tell you that they would keep you in mind for further assignments.

Sneaky? Temp agencies are very sneaky and notorious for fighting UI claims, it’s the nature of their biz that causes them to have an abundance of “lack of work” claims and therefore, a high unemployment tax rate, so they fight everything with all kinds of “issues”.

But you’ll have to let us all know what Illinois decides, because they only have a couple precedents in their digest of decisions which can be found in the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Law Handbook and none seemed relevant to your situation.

Comments for I worked for a Temp Agency and they are fighting my unemployment benefits.
RE: Get Me Out/Am I Stuck

by: BJ

I must have reached the limit a few times because I’ve lost everything twice. I will try again.

Administrative Law Judge’s Decision on my appeal is as such:

Findings of Fact: Claimant worked at company full-time, who then outsourced her employment contract to the employer, a temp help firm. She earned $12 an hour (*note – this was almost 6 years), her position was eliminated. Claimant hasn’t worked anywhere since. The claimant was willing to work M-F from 7a-3p. She would have accepted at least $14/hr and willing to travel up to 10 miles one way to work (*note – which puts me anywhere in a 30,000-person community).

The claimant remained registered with the help firm & eligible for placement elsewhere following the end of her assignment. The claimant was required to contact the firm weekly to report her availability. The claimant did not contact the help firm in the weeks at issue.

She mistakenly assumed that her employment relationship with the help firm had ended along with her assignment at the company; and she was unaware of the contact requirement. The claimant browsed job postings on various web sites, seeking work. She did not apply for any positions. She did not receive any offe3rs of work during the weeks in question.

Conclusion: 820ILCS 405/500C; 56 Ill. Adm. Code 2720.112 and 2865.115 provide, among other things, that an unemployed individual shall be eligible to receive benefits with respect to any week provided that during the period in question he was actively seeking work and has certified such and upon request provides the Dept. a listing of the places at which he has sought work.

Here, the claimant did not contact her last employer, a temp help firm, during the period under review. She was unaware of the contact requirement and there is no evidence showing that she was made aware of it.

That said, the claimant did not adequately explain why she could not have called the agency at least once each week to check to see if it had anything else available. (*note – isn’t this contradictory?) Since she received no separation documentation or information from the employer (*note – I had to ask the temp agency what that was) indicating that her employment relationship with the agency was over, the claimant had no good reason not to call the agency just in case something was available.

Moreover, the claimant did not otherwise show that she engaged in an adequate search for suitable work elsewhere during the week in question. A work search effort that consists merely of browsing job search sites but not applying for any positions is meager and perfunctory and not reasonably calculated to lead to new employment.

Finally, the claimant said she would have accepted no less than $14/hr, $2 more an hour than she earned in her last employment. Under the circumstances, the claimant imposed an unreasonably high wage demand as a condition of employment. She was only willing to work within her area and to work the specified hours of 7am-3pm.

This combination of conditions for accepting work so narrowed her opportunities that she had no reasonable prospects of securing work. The claimant therefore also rendered herself unavailable for work during the weeks in question. Because the claimant was neither available for work nor actively seeking work during the period in question, she is not eligible to receive benefits for that period under Section 500C of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act.

– – – – – –

So, the first few weeks I searched online I did not see any jobs I was qualified for or wanted to apply for (burger flipper? barista? shoe store clerk?) and nothing that would have even had the $12 I was making. The judge asked me about the $14, and I told her I had been at $12 for the last nearly 6 years, the local office asked in their interview and I told them I would like (WOULD LIKE) to get $14. I also told them I would prefer (WOULD PREFER) 7am-3pm.

The temp agency had me interviewing at a position for $14/hr the week following the two weeks in question, but not from 7-3. And another job interview for $11/hr, also not 7-3, but close to my residence.

So, the first few weeks of unemployment when I searched online I did not see any jobs I was qualified for or wanted to apply for (burger joint? barista? shoe store clerk?) and nothing that would have even had the $12 I was making. The judge asked me about the $14, and I told her I had been at $12 for the last nearly 6 years, the local office asked in their interview and I told them I would like (WOULD LIKE) to get $14. I also told them I would prefer (WOULD PREFER) 7am-3pm.

The temp agency had me interviewing at a position for $14/hr the week following the two weeks in question, but not from 7-3. And another job interview for $11/hr, also not 7-3, but close to my residence. The jobs were brought up, but I don’t think the hourly or hours as that wasn’t in question at the time.

I also asked the temp agency why they never said anything to me after they learned my job was being phased out, and they said the company told them not to. Oh! Great answer! Like as in NEVER? How about when I picked up my last check? Or when I got the letter from IDES that you didn’t know if I was able and available, and you told me you had nothing to do with it because you didn’t pay unemployment. LIES! ALL LIES!

I found a PT church secretarial job online Tuesday, sent an email along with my resume, got a call Wednesday morning, interviewed that afternoon, set up a second interview for Tuesday with the priest, turned in the application they gave me yesterday, discussed and tweaked benefits, and was told I would be a good fit for the office and I said I thought so too. Also told please don’t take another job yet – they should be calling mid-week. Not 7-3, not full-time, and $13/hr. And I want the job. And I CANNOT WAIT to get out from under this temp agency!!! NEVER AGAIN!!

This afternoon the temp agency called me about the same job (not on their website), left a message and said IF I wanted more information to give them a call. DO I HAVE TO RESPOND? I don’t need more info, I have already applied, and I don’t feel I have to tell them that. Besides, I have NO PAPERWORK that tells me what I’m supposed to do. I just know I have to call in once a week on the recorded line.

I plan to file an appeal to the Board of Review, unless you think that would be futile. I really can’t believe the judge responded this way, but I guess the way it’s gone so far, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Thank you very much for all the work you put in to reading these comments and replying to them. It is very appreciated and this website is awesome!


For: Get Me Out/Am I Stuck

by: Chris

Beyond questions about unemployment benefits and poor little old temporary staffing agencies being deemed the liable employer that suffers a higher UI tax rate when someone is paid benefits after a separation from one of their “clients”, I would suggest you expand your search into the problem with temp employment, with this an employment law issue, to include joint employers  article that introduces us to a term I wasn’t familiar with before I googled it, a common law employer.

As for any questions about your benefits and hearing outcome, I’m leaning toward addressing the importance of that paperwork the employer couldn’t/ or just failed to admit into the record of the hearing as evidence.

Leaning your way, because I have a common expectation an employer can prove the employee was made aware of the terms and conditions of their employment when they were first hired and in the case of a TA, to include a signed acknowledgment, they understood any special provision in UI law requiring a temp employee must contact the staffing agency for additional SUITABLE work, to prove that fine point of why a claimant should be deemed ineligible for benefits, or because they failed to call the temp agency, maybe just hoping they could somehow disassociate themselves from the TA.

Problem is, ignoring a temp outfits offer of temp assignments, is a common way people just become disassociated from their weekly unemployment benefits, after actually losing a job through no fault of their own.


RE: Get Me Out / Am I Stuck?

by: BJ

(Sorry, these were both from me.)

My appeal hearing was regarding my first 2 weeks of unemployment benefits, the temp agency saying I didn’t call in. I didn’t realize I had to. Of course no one told me.

I had started working with a local company and worked a year-and-a-half as a self-employed contractor. I billed them for my work.

Then the company decided they needed background checks on their contract people so my supvr. had my job posted by the temp agency so I could apply for it online and get my background checked and be drug tested. No one ever said that now the job was temporary. I worked another almost four and a half years there, with wages being paid by the temp agency. Then my job was phased out at the end of the year. My supervisor had retained complete control of my job and said she didn’t need the temp agency for anything other than background checks. I even had one staff member at the temp agency tell me not long ago that they really didn’t even know what all I did for that company.

That same staff member told me, after I received my first notice from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) stating the temp agency questioned if I was able and available for work, that the temp agency had nothing to do with it because they don’t pay unemployment. I wanted to find out what I was supposed to be doing differently, but she didn’t tell me anything.

This was in my fourth week of being unemployed. I had my waiting week in, and the next two weeks which they paid me for, and then I got a call from the temp agency regarding a job possibility. Even though they didn’t know if I was able and available to work.

This is also the week I called the IDES and asked them about this letter. I was told I was going to be getting another one. At the end of the week I took the letters down to the temp agency and spoke with that staff member. Earlier I had asked what I needed to do and that was when they told me they didn’t have anything to do with it.

Suddenly they did have something to do with it. They just call up a screen when the IDES calls and it tells them who called in. Oh and by the way, here’s a card with the availability line number that you should be calling every week. Why didn’t I get it before? She said I had worked so long at that company that they didn’t even think about it.

I’ve had my appeals hearing. I thought it went well. I sent my work search history in. This is a bit unique as I did not approach a temp agency looking for work, but because my current client sent me there so that I could keep my job. I had never used a temp agency, and I’ve been working over 40 years. I thought this was a formality to keep my job, not an attachment to a temp agency. Hence my not calling in. But I have done a lot of reading on temp agencies since. Never again.

During the hearing when the judge asked them if they contacted me after my job ended, they said that my company didn’t want them to. (And the company I worked for told me the temp agency already knew, so why would I call them?) I didn’t talk to anyone from the temp agency until the 4th week of my unemployment when they called to see if I wanted them to put my resume in for a job. All I had gotten at the end of the year was an email saying I could come in and pick up my paper check, and it was handed to me, but no one said a word.

The judge asked me if I had signed any paperwork, and I said I had to have signed something to agree to letting them drug test me, but I didn’t have anything. The judge asked the temp agency if they had paperwork signed with their policies saying I needed to call in, etc., and no they don’t. Something happened with their computer and they don’t have it, “but it’s the same for everybody.” So where does that leave me?

I have never had the intention of going to a temp agency. I did not realize I was chained to them now. They do not have my best interests, they only have theirs. And they are not finding me a job. They have lied to my face, and I don’t want to be associated with them anymore.

Is it possible to disassociate myself from them and still receive unemployment benefits? There is no other employer that I would have to keep checking in with if my job was phased out, I am stressed out, and I don’t want them making money off me any longer.


For: Get Me Out Of The Temp Agency!

by: Chris

Temporary employment is for the most part, like any other job, when you separate from the employer. The burden to quit with good cause, or without any, or rebutting an employer’s burden of why you were not fired for misconduct, but some reason that may not rise to a level to be deemed misconduct.

However, in many states there’s an additional special voluntary quit rule, applied to only those working for a temp agency. I already know some temp agencies abuse this rule when they initially protest a claim, but that doesn’t mean they can get, or keep a denial in place, after an unemployment hearing.


Am I Stuck?

by: BJ

Once I am registered with a temp agency, my job gets phased out, and I am receiving unemployment benefits, can I get out from under them and still keep my unemployment benefits? Or do they own me now? I can’t find this anywhere. I don’t want to be associated with them, they are deceitful and underhanded and lie to your face. Also found out on an appeal hearing that they don’t have the paperwork I signed anymore. Does that help any?

Don’t know what the issue of the appeal hearing is, or what the circumstances surrounding the separation might be, so it follows that I don’t know if the employer, not having the paperwork you signed anymore when you were hired, helps you, win that hearing, or not.



Get Me Out Of The Temp Agency!

by: Anonymous

Same here, at least for the first two weeks. I didn’t go to them looking for work, I was a self-employed contractor and that company decided they needed background checks so I had to go in thru the temp agency. It was a formality to me. Now I learn I am registered with them. If I get out of the agency, will I get any more unemployment benefits? I feel like they own me and I hate it!!


Question is, who might be more wrong? The temp agency, or the St. of Michigan that may of not of been doing their other job to ensure your rights to due process were also served.

by: Chris

The St. of Michigan may be how you ended up with an overpayment being your problem, given the size of the overpayment they said you owed, it must have taken the state a long time to detect anything.

That size of an unemployment overpayment, would frankly, ruin most average people’s lives, especially if they weren’t made aware there was an overpayment determination they needed to appeal, or if appealed, didn’t know how to disprove the state was responsible for a bad call, followed up by some serious questions that should of had the state wondering what was going on, a lot sooner, and how to fix the problems.

You should read more about the hot water Michigan’s UIA go itself into here, because I suspect your problem now, may of begun with the (temp agency) using some trick of the trade I assume they may use to fight benefits for the wrong reasons, including misrepresenting material facts to initially deny benefits.

But again, it becomes an impossibility to hold an actual state administrative law agency blameless, if someone pushes back hard enough to prove the blame belongs to the agency for its own egregious behavior, to the point any reasonable person can see, it was the state’s behavior that meets all the essential criteria to be found as the “willful” type of misconduct regular folks don’t get UI benefits for.


I worked for a temp agency

by: Anonymous

I worked for a temp agency in flint Mi, and they had set me up with a job assignment that I worked for a roughly 6 months and one day before work I received a call from the temp agency stating that my job assignment for that job has ended because that position was being filled. They placed me at two other jobs after that and one of the jobs that I was placed at was for only a week or two, and the other job that I was placed at was in a plant and I was be a janitor but the fumes in that plant was so strong that I could not work it.

I called that employment agency and I let them know the situation and they acted as if it was not a problem, considering this was my health and that the fumes that I was breathing in from the plant was bothering me.

Well after I talked with them and let them know the situation, they were fine with that and told me that they didn’t have anything else at the moment and for me to call every Thursday to see if they had anything. I called as they told me to, and they never had nothing for me at the moment. I then filed for unemployment and I was approved for it.

As time went by and I was still receiving my unemployment while still calling them for employment, I received a letter from the UIA office saying that I had voluntarily quit my job, and that I would have to pay $20,000 and something dollars back which include penalties, over payment of 1,800 dollars and so on. I’m pissed because I never voluntarily quit, they never had anything else available for me to work at the moment is what they always told me when

I called to see if they had work for me. Long story short, these temp agencies are wrong, and it is not right for UIA to always take their word that a person voluntarily quit in order for someone to not get unemployment through them. This temp agency has ruined my life because it’s my word against theirs and UIA is all for them and this penalty stuff that UIA has going on is ridiculous, they said I was over paid 1800 dollars but I have to pay back 18,000 dollars in penalties.


Clearstaff will stop you from recieving unemployment benefits

by: Anonymous

I’m currently collecting unemployment and Clearstaff in Chicago keeps trying to fight it every way they can they don’t have a job for me but at the same time they keep trying to stop me from collecting unemployment I urge anyone looking for work to not go thru a temp agency they will fight you all the way


Re: temp service saying I must accept a lower paying temp assignment, or they would fight benefits

by: Chris

My thought is that a temp staffing agency would likely fight anyone’s unemployment benefits, since it is in fact the employer that pays an unemployment tax on the wages paid, no matter what company they might lease you out to work for.

However, the logical argument and issue you raised, would likely read something like this.

Claimant voluntarily quit without good cause. They refused an offer of continuing, suitable employment.

My problem with such blanket employer responses, is I don’t have any specific information to assess whether the new temp assignment, or a lesser wage, would be arguable, should you refuse any assignment, or because the offer amounted to unsuitable work, specifically to and for you.

You mentioned the next temp assignment would pay less than the 14 dollars per hour you’d received for seven months.

Reduction in pay can be good cause to refuse permanent employment when one position is eliminated, therefore it can also be good cause to refuse when a temp assignment is also not suitable work, (depending on what you answered when you signed on with a temp agency.

So, before one refuses any job, only considering the amount of pay, they should know if they could potential argue and prove, their refusal was due to a substantial change made by an employer to the terms and conditions of employment, which is connected to one area of concern in the criteria for suitable work, I linked to above.

What is deemed as a substantial reduction in pay, however, is something that can vary by state.

Some states are notorious for moving this sort of information. Whether they do it on purpose, or just think no one who should be interested, will be the wiser, I don’t know.


temp service saying I must accept a lower paying temp assignment, or they would fight benefits

by: Anonymous

I worked for a temp service at $14 dollars an hour for over 7 months I was just laid off and now the temp service told me I need to except any lower paid job they give me and I would not be able to draw unemployment because they would fight it is that true?



temp agencies and Unemployment

by: Anonymous

Since you did actually call within 48 hours, and they ended the assignment – you did not quit, you would be eligible to receive unemployment. The strategy to use here, is, to document, that you called the temp agency for a new assignment, within 48 hours.

Make sure to save your phone records as proof. And, tell the unemployment review person, exactly what happened. Temp agencies are sneaky and they do lie. It is best not to deal with temp agencies, but, instead to pursue a permanent position. However, sometimes people have to deal with temp agencies, and so, just stay with the truth, file a claim for Unemployment, and keep good records as proof. good luck



by: Anonymous

I’d have to agree that the staffs at temp agency do lie to push you to sign all the paperwork in a rush.

I’m glad I didn’t and took the time to read and review them all. And I did ask about the checking in per week on the form if your current assignment ends. I asked if I do that by email or not, and they say they’re not so strict on that. LOL. Sounds like they’re trying to convince me not to so that they can avoid paying UI.

Thanks for all the comments on this webpage. I’m going to keep extra documentations to protect myself now. :)


Temporary Agencies and Unemployment

by: Anonymous

Sorry you had this experience. I had a similar thing happen to me; I was told by my temp agency that the assignment ended. I contacted the agency, they offered me another job, but when I called them back, they said it had been filled. I am experiencing major obstacles with my UC benefits. With your situation, keep good written records, as you may need this when talking to Unemployment board. Just keep looking for a better job that is permanent. Don’t give up. You will find something better soon. Best of luck to you.


SureStaff in Arlington Heights, Il.

by: Anonymous

WOW!! What great website! I was feeling all alone until I read these! Thank you for making me feel NOT CRAZY!!! The Unemployment judges MUST know the scam these agencies are doing, since they are the ones handling the calls. I just got done with a call from an appeal with SureStaff in Arlington Heights, Il. I swear ALL of these sound like them. EXACTLY the same lying and embellishing and withholding information!!

Also the mention of the “Rules” in fine print on the application. I restarted with them again 2 weeks after the layoff. I even gave them a weeks notice. You would THINK that they would hook up a loyal and dependable employee (more $$$-flow for them!) with another gig to avoid all this drama.

So I have learned my lesson and am pursuing a perm job where I can enjoy some vacation time and paid days off. I’ve never had such a bad experience temping until this experience with SureStaff in Arlington Heights, Il. Also I did keep some records but will be even more vigilant like the last person did. Thanks! :)


Read the small print

by: Anonymous

I am currently trying to get away from a temp agency. On my first job assignment I was approached by a manager asking if I’d be interested in a lab position. Since I am experienced in this area I asked questions, such as how many hours I would work before getting hired and the pay. After getting answers I weighed my options and the next day told them yes.

After working the amounted hours to get hired I let them know I now had the expected hours in. For 2 months they kept putting me off for the drug test to be hired and started training another person for the job I was doing. I worked for 6 months straight, not calling off and working overtime when asked. I was sick 1 day and called off and the following day had a call from the temp agency said my services were no longer needed. And they (temp agency) would call me. When I filed unemployment I was denied because I didn’t call in every day!!

What the heck!! I’m still fighting it. So now I call morning s and afternoons, write down who I speak with and don’t refuse a job because they then say you refused a job and then they refuse you unemployment….again!!! My advice….DO NOT go through a temp agency.

Yup, you need to read the small print when you sign on with a temp agency,

It sounds like you work in a state that has one of those special “temporary worker provisions” Special in that the industry of temporary staffing gets s special law written just for them that can be abused to stop payment of benefits on even a technicality, that they called you and said they’d be in touch when they had a job, instead of you calling every day to hear they had nothing.

Yes, read the small print and CYA!!


Temp agency lied

by: Anonymous

Temp agency employees lie, I know from experience last year. I am much smarter than the people who work at these offices and I did ask questions after having been let go of the job they had for me.

I was told I didn’t have to call weekly, come in or follow up, which I felt was very odd. I was told not to worry that she would send out my resume that day and get some interviews lined up for me. I did file for unemployment, as I knew this temp agency rarely got office jobs, they told me this when I applied for the job they posted but claimed did not exist.

Yes, I had to put up a fight until I won and I argued with the lady at the unemployment office on how unprofessional the temp agency was and how I asked questions and felt there answers did not add up. Yes, I am fully aware you are supposed to report weekly to the temp agency, so they know you are still actively looking for work, but they won’t tell you this.

The employees, including the office manager were so upset that I was able to get unemployment and they tried everything to prevent me from getting it by making false statements to the unemployment office. I had proof of contact, it’s called an iphone. I did a screen shot of all the calls I made to them so that I could show the unemployment office. When they answer, always be sure to write down the name of the person you spoke with along with the date and time, once they figure out who you are and if you need to ask there name again, they are more likely to make up a fake name.

Don’t let them win, the more documentation you have showing you have made contact with them, the better.


Unemployment and Temp Agencies

by: Anonymous

If you get laid off a temp agency or are just applying for unemployment, keep a document of date, time that you contact the temp agency within 48hrs you assignment ended.

Also, I would e-mail you temp agency so there is documentation of you attempting to contact them. Don’t forget to save their e-mailed response.

I worked at a call center for a temp agency and the department is being cancelled so all of our assignments are ending this Friday.

They gave us some options of new assignments but they never mentioned the possibility of unemployment at our meeting today when they said the department was closing.

You have to accept an assignment of similar hours and pay otherwise the temp agency will fight you on unemployment.

What I did was I e-mailed the temp agency my option for the assignment that way if they don’t give me the job. I have documentation of attempting to contact them. In addition, I went in person to talk to them.


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