New Jersey Enacts Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights into Law
On February 6, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law A1474/S511, colloquially known as the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” (the “Act”). Aimed to eliminate pay disparities and increase administrative oversight of temporary staffing agencies, the Act expands legal protections afforded to temporary workers and outlines new requirements for New Jersey employers and staffing agencies, alike. The notice and anti-retaliation provisions described below go into effect on May 7, 2023, while the rest of the Act will go into effect on August 5, 2023.
To whom does this new law apply to?
The new legal protections apply to temporary workers assigned by a “temporary help service firm” (i.e., temporary staffing agencies) to perform work in any of the following occupational categories as designated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Protective Service Workers
- Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations
- Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations
- Personal Care and Service Occupations
- Construction Laborers
- Helpers, Construction Trades
- Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
- Production Occupations
- Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
The law defines a “temporary help service firm” as any person or entity that employ individuals “directly or indirectly for the purpose of assigning the employed individuals to assist the firm’s customers in the handling of the customers’ temporary, excess or special workloads, and who, in addition to the payment of wages or salaries to the employed individuals, pays federal social security taxes and State and federal unemployment insurance; carries workers’ compensation insurance as required by State law; and sustains responsibility for the actions of the employed individuals while they render services to the firms’ customers.”
What requirements are going into effect on May 7, 2023?
Temporary staffing agencies will be required to provide written notice to temporary workers each time any worker is given a new assignment. The notice must be written in English and in the temporary worker’s primary language and must include the following information:
- The name of the temporary laborer;
- The name, address and telephone number of the temporary staffing agency, its workers’ compensation carrier, the client employer (i.e., the temporary staffing agency’s client), and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development;
- The name and nature of the work to be performed;
- The wages offered;
- The name and address of the assigned worksite of each temporary laborer;
- The terms of transportation offered, if applicable;
- A description of the position and whether it shall require any special clothing, protective equipment, or training, along with any licenses and costs charged to the employee for supplies or training;
- Whether meals or equipment are provided and who will pay for those costs;
- The length of the assignment;
- The amount of sick leave the temporary worker is entitled to; and
- The schedule for multi-day assignments.
Additionally, temporary workers assigned to a multi-day assignment must receive at least 48 hours’ advance notice prior to any change in the schedule, shift, or location of the assignment, when possible. Upon request, the temporary worker must also be given written confirmation for any day that the worker sought, but was not assigned work.
As noted above, the Act contains an anti-retaliation provision that prohibits retaliation against temporary workers for exercising their rights under the law, which includes filing a complaint with the temporary staffing agency or its client.
What are the other requirements that will go into effect on August 5, 2023?
Effective August 5, 2023, temporary workers will receive the following additional protections:
- Equal pay – the key provision of the Act – is the requirement that temporary workers must be paid at least the same average rate of pay and have access to the same benefits as the client employer’s regular employees (at the average cost of those benefits or the cash equivalent thereof), so long as the temporary workers are performing the same or substantially similar tasks requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility. Although certain deductions may be taken from wages (for meals and equipment, for example), the deductions may not cause the wages to fall below the minimum wage. Violation of this provision may result in a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.
- Wage payment requirements – temporary workers who work a single day must be provided a work verification form from the client employer at the end of the day, which contains various pieces of information like the date, the temporary worker’s name, the work location, and the hours worked on that day. Wages must be paid bi-weekly upon request by the temporary worker. Temporary workers who are assigned to work at a location, but not provided with work must be paid for a minimum of 4 hours, unless they are sent to another location, in which case they must be paid for a minimum of 2 hours. The New Jersey Department of Labor is currently preparing a model work verification form.
- No transportation fees – neither staffing agencies nor their clients may charge temporary workers fees for transportation to or from designated work sites.
- Regulations on agreements temporary staffing agencies have with their clients – provisions restricting a temporary worker’s ability to be hired in a permanent position with the client employer are prohibited, but a placement fee can be assessed by the staffing agency, which may not exceed the daily commission rate that the agency would have received over a 60-day period. Client employers will be required to reimburse staffing agencies for the cost of payroll taxes for services performed by temporary workers.
- Recordkeeping – temporary staffing agencies must keep comprehensive records about all temporary workers for 6 years and the client employer must provide the agency with information about the worker (including name and address, specific location of the work performed by the worker, hours worked, and rate of pay) no later than 7 days after the last day of the workweek in which the temporary worker performed any work.
- Private right of action and statute of limitations – temporary workers, temporary staffing agencies and client employers will all have the right to file a lawsuit within 6 years of a violation under the law. Significantly, temporary staffing agencies and client employers may be held jointly and severally liable for violations of this new law.
Employers should speak with counsel to review the forthcoming new legal obligations, as well consider various practical concerns, to assess whether any changes should be made to the employers’ use of temporary workers from temporary staffing agencies.
As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.
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