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In my native language, we have a word for people performing some kind of assignment, including contractors, expert consultants, external reviewers, (student) representatives,board members and so on and so forth. Now I need a similar word in English. I've considered a gazillion different words, and rejected them all – except for two: "assignee" and "appointee", both of which seem at least potentially suitable.

According to Merriam-Webster, "assignee" can be used to refer either to "a person to whom an assignment is made" or to "a person appointed to act for another", which would neatly cover all of the above; however, according to Cambridge Dictionary, it refers to "a person who has been sent by their company or organization to live and work in another place for a period of time", which suggests this word doesn't work at all...

As for "appointee", this word means "one who is appointed" (Merriam-Webster); "someone who has been chosen officially for a job or responsibility" (Cambridge Dictionary), which seems close enough; I'm just worried that it's perhaps too focused on the fact that the person in question has been specifically chosen for the relevant assignment...

So, what do you native speakers of (primarily British) English say – which (if any) of these two would you use?

A third option that I just thought of might be "service provider"; from various Google searches, it seems that this word is mostly used about firms and companies, rather than about individual people though, but I'm not at all sure...?

I need an inclusive term for all these roles, because they all have their "employment status" in common. That is, I need to be able to say things like "Xs need to register their bank details on the form N2BE3" and "Xs should register the hours worked on the form K3FA4"... so yeah, unlikely as it seems, I do need to refer to all these rather different roles collectively...

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  • Contractors is used in many of these senses involving paid work; appointee only if people are appointed. But you shouldn't expect a word in your native language to necessarily have an exact match in English. Things like student representatives or board members are clearly different because student representatives aren't employed (and they might be elected representatives or appointees); while board members are chosen in a variety of methods, may or may not be paid (depending on what kind of board they're sitting on); external reviewers typically aren't paid (in academia at least); etc.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 30 at 9:15
  • You're absolutely right about there not necessarily being a one-to-one match between languages, of course – but I'm allowed to dream, right? ;) :)) Jokes apart, I'm at a loss; I really don't know how to deal with this blasted word... Oh well.
    – Helen
    Commented May 30 at 9:26
  • Inside Google itself they call these kinds of workers "TVCs" for "temps, vendors and contractors" but I doubt that abbreviation is known elsewhere. Commented May 30 at 10:40
  • This is a good question. In English legal terms. "assignee" and "appointee" can be very different things, so you probably want to use a word not encumbered by legalities.
    – Wastrel
    Commented May 30 at 14:36
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    To make this question useful for future users, I encourage you to edit it to clarify both (1) what all of your examples have in common and (2) what those people to whom your term wouldn’t apply have in common. That the term’s extension is exactly those people whom some process requires to fill out some form doesn’t help people understand the distinction you wish to draw. Commented May 30 at 16:18

2 Answers 2

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Apropos your comment, since you seem to mean "anybody who gets paid, except employees" I'd suggest "Non-employee"

Non-employees need to register their bank details on the form N2BE3"

I'd probably want to include a paragraph to explain the use of the term.

Non-employees include (but are not limited to): Visiting faculty, contractors, student representatives, paid board members ...

See What is a non-employee

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  • Ooooohhh!! Thank you!!! I think you've solved it for me!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!
    – Helen
    Commented May 30 at 9:29
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You are right that service provider usually refers to a firm or company.

Assignee and appointee are uncommon for general reference to a person in a project; they seem to be more for very formal documents.

Let's say we have a project team. Why would you want a general term for the members all doing very different tasks? We should be specific and could use client's representative, project manager, consultant, specialist consultant, contractor, (peer) reviewer, system certifier, and so on.

I hardly came across expert consultant and hence have used specialist consultant which is common in my line.

If you must have a general term to encompass all the roles, we would need to consider broad ones like (project) team members, which are not very useful except in general utterances like Are all team members here yet? and All team members must play their part.

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  • Thank you for your answer! I need an inclusive term for all these roles, because they all have their "employment status" in common. That is, I need to be able to say things like "Xs need to register their bank details on the form N2BE3" and "Xs should register the hours worked on the form K3FA4"... so yeah, unlikely as it seems, I do need to refer to all these rather different roles collectively...
    – Helen
    Commented May 30 at 3:42
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    It doesn't relate to the same employment status at all! A board member, a temporary contractor and a student representative are completely different in their employment status with a company.
    – James K
    Commented May 30 at 6:39
  • @JamesK Unfortunately, it does in my context... Or, well, perhaps not the same employment status exactly, but I'm not sure what else to call it. I'm translating a number of forms that apply collectively to people who are appointed to serve as student representatives, external reviewers, specialist consultants etc; that is, they are treated by these forms as belonging to the same "employment category", as it were.
    – Helen
    Commented May 30 at 9:22
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    Can you say who isn't in this category? Does it include everybody who gets paid by the organisation? Does it include part-time employees? Does it include full time employees (after all, these people have "assignments" too) If it doesn't include employees, then see my answer below.
    – James K
    Commented May 30 at 9:28
  • @JamesK Yes – I just saw it :) I am so, so, sooo grateful for this!!!
    – Helen
    Commented May 30 at 9:32

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