TRENTON – The temporary workers who perform a wide variety of jobs and have increased in numbers in recent years would gain basic employee protections that already apply to most American workers, under terms of legislation authored by Senator Joe Cryan that was approved by a Senate committee today.
The bill, S-511, approved by the Senate Labor Committee 3-0-1, would put into law worker protections for temporary laborers and set standards for the temp agencies that employ them.
“Temp workers should have equal rights,” said Senator Cryan, “but, because of their circumstances they are vulnerable to the abuse of basic labor rights. They don’t deserve to be exploited for their labor, cheated out of their wages or denied their rights in the workplace. We respect all workers and expect them to be treated fairly.”
At least 127,000 people work for an estimated 100 licensed temp agencies in New Jersey, with an unknown number of unlicensed agencies operating outside the oversight of regulators.
Many of them are low-wage temporary laborers who are vulnerable to the abuse of their labor rights, including unpaid wages, the failure to pay minimum wages and overtime, unsafe working conditions, unlawful deductions for meals, transportation, equipment, as well as discriminatory practices.
“Many temp workers are people of color or first-generation Americans who are working hard to support themselves and their families,” said Senator Cryan. “They often feel that they have no recourse if they are mistreated. This bill will help ensure their rights and make sure they have the information they need to protect themselves.”
The bill would hold the temp agencies accountable by requiring record-keeping that is available to workers and regulators that includes basic information on hours worked, the pay rate and the employer of record.
It would require temporary service firms to register with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and provide proof of an employer account number for the payment of unemployment insurance and valid workers’ compensation. The bill would prohibit any third-party client from contracting for the employment of temporary laborers with a firm that has not registered.
It would also have temp agencies provide laborers with basic employment information, including the names of the agency, the employer, the workers’ comp carrier and contacts for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
They would also have to inform them of the nature of the work, the pay, terms of transportation, the length and schedule of the work assignment, and whether meals are provided and if special clothing is needed to do the work.
A temporary help service firm is defined as a business that employs individuals directly or indirectly for the purpose of assigning them to assist the firm’s customers with their temporary, excess or special workloads. It is not the same as an employment agency.