Spot the difference: Temp. Freelancer. Interim manager. Consultant. Of course, you've guessed already. There isn't one. They are all different terms for basically the same thing: Non-permanent workers.And to the extent there is a difference, it is one of perceived snob value rather than actual substance.
Now let's add another dimension: Full time, and part time. If you stop and think about them as labels, full' and part' are rather ridiculous descriptions. For a start one man's full' may be another man's part', and with 168 hours in any week it is odd that 35 of them can constitute full' and 33 part'.
Back in the 1980s when I was hard at it just proving myself I reckon I worked 70 to 80 hours a week. It was what I wanted to do (sad git), and I freely admitted that I lived to work.
The trouble was, and I'm ashamed to say this now, I tended to regard anyone who did not work at that pace as a bit of a lightweight.

Work to live
It's now a different tale. Twenty years on and not only do I want to work to live', but I'm more interested in the effect of what I do (quality of output), rather than how much I do it (quantity of input).
But if I do go part-time' at any point, I'm not going to call it that. If it is for four days a week it will be an 80% contract' or three days, 60%'.
This is because I will want to avoid that association which is in so many people's minds: part-time' means part-committed'.
And just to round off all this absurd terminology, what exactly does temporary' and permanent' mean anyway, particularly when the only certainty in today's market is that nothing is permanent?
When you stop to think about it, the problem is that over time all these labels have formed themselves into a hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy is full time permanent' (suggesting committed employer with committed employee doing a proper' job) and at the bottom is part-time temp'.
But does any of this matter? Well it does, particularly when the retail industry is criticised for creating McJobs'. The inference being that these are not real' jobs.
Two weeks ago the most recent Labour Force Survey was published and it showed that the total number of people who are now in employment was up again and, in spite of a faltering economy and a dire recruitment market, there are more people working now than there were this time last year.
But dig a little deeper into the numbers and there are some interesting trends. Since 1995, total numbers in employment have gone up 5%, but the rise is a staggering 22% for people over the age of 50 in employment.
Part of that rise can be explained by the effects of ageing baby-boomers coming into that age bracket, but a significant part of it is down to over-50s taking more (and I'm sorry to use this phrase) part time work.

Returning mothers
Dig deeper still into the numbers and returning mothers are obtaining more work.
Other people are taking part-time work so that they can become mature students and support themselves through their studies. In fact explore all the way through the numbers and you will find people taking on work that suits their own circumstances.
What the critics of McJobs don't seem to understand is that because these roles exist, they are bringing many more people into the world of work ­ which has to be a good thing.
What's more, most of these people will choose a role (and an employment basis) to suit them, and most don't necessarily want permanent or full time jobs. They want jobs which fit in with the rest of their lives.
And isn't that the way it should be? After all, we'd make a happier and more fulfilled nation if we all just worked to live.

n Simon Howard is a founder of Work Communications and writes the Jobfile column for the Sunday Times.