About Limited Term Employment

In our efforts to become a more agile organization, the County of San Mateo created limited term employment. Limited term employees are employees who serve the County for a period of up to 6,240 hours. Limited term employees are typically brought on to work on special projects, help the department address a significant spike in workload, or backfill for a regular employee who is on leave or working out of class. Limited term employees subject to the AFSCME/SEIU Extra-Help MOU can only be used in circumstances outlined in the AFSCME/SEIU Extra-Help MOU.

To the extent limited term employees are hired to facilitate work on planned projects, Departments are encouraged to, and the County may exercise its discretion to, assign such project work to regular employees while the limited term employees backfill Regular Employee job duties.

Limited term employment offers individuals the opportunity to experience and learn about the County without making a long-term commitment to the organization. At the end of the term, an employee may choose to either apply for a regular County position or explore the external job market.

Since 2013, limited term employees have greatly helped the County diversify and maximize its staffing resources. Limited term employees have enabled departments to significantly expand their operations and pilot new systems and processes aimed to enhance service delivery.

Limited Term vs. Extra-Help

Limited Term employees differ from extra-help employees in the scope of work, length of service, and retirement and health benefits*. Below is a chart outlining the differences between the two worker types.

  Limited Term Extra-Help
Scope of Work Primarily used for special projects, pilot programs, implementation of new organizational and technological changes, or to backfill for an employee on extended leave. Primarily used to staff seasonal assignments and assist departments during brief periods of heightened workloads.
Span of Work At most 6,240 hours Length of assignment may vary – maximum of 1040 hours unless additional time is approved
Health Benefits Full health benefits Eligible for Kaiser high-deductible plan only if employed 30 hours or more per week
Retirement Benefits

Defined contribution retirement plan (401a);

Eligible to enroll in County’s deferred compensation plan

No retirement benefits included


*Additional benefits for limited term employees are covered in this handbook.