Earlier this month, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill known as the "Temporary Workers Bill of Rights." This bill seeks to equalize temporary workers' compensation with regular employees, which will increase transparency requirements and restrict placement fees paid to staff agencies or firms. A1474/S511, the new law, will impact over 127,000 temporary workers in the Garden State and applies explicitly to those temporary workers who are placed with third-party employers through staffing agencies and temporary work firms for jobs in industries such as cleaning, maintenance, construction, moving materials, personal care, production, repair, restaurant, security, and transportation.
In a statement regarding the new law. Governor Murphy made a note to mention that regardless of their race or status, temporary workers are "key contributors to the workforce in our state," furthering his point that this new law will help establish what he calls "necessary guidelines" for these temporary help service firms and third-party clients to ensure that their workers are enabled to afford basic protections and are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. The new law will take effect on August 5, 2023. However, specific provisions will go into effect ninety days from the enactment or May 7, 2023.
Below for your convenience, we've highlighted the key takeaways from this new law, including wages, transparency, and record-keeping protections for temporary workers and additional obligations for temporary staffing firms and employers in New Jersey.
In regard to wages, covered temp workers are to be paid no less than the average going rate and the cost of benefits that are provided to “regular employees” with similar positions and skill requirements, responsibilities, and working conditions. Theoretically, this could allow temp workers to receive a greater take-home wage than regular employees. The new law will also enable the firms that provide temp workers to charge a placement fee to the employers with which it places temporary workers. However, in order to do so, they will be required to previously disclose the amount of the fees on temporary workers' wage payment stubs and notice forms along with the total amount of actual charges to the third-party client for the temporary laborer during every pay period as compared to the total compensation cost for the temporary laborer.
Employers who decide to contract with temp staffing firms will also be made jointly liable for any violations of both wages and placement fee notice provisions. The law will also require temp firms to provide their workers with an annual earnings summary by February 1 of each year and are expected to include an itemized statement with their wages that includes the number of hours worked, rate of pay for every hour, the total earnings for that pay period, and an itemized list of any deductions from compensation.
For placements and certifications, the new law will prevent temporary service firms from restricting the rights of their workers to accept, if offered, permanent employment at the employers they are contracted with. They are also prohibited from preventing or limiting employers from providing such employment to any temporary staff member. However, in the case that the temp workers are offered a permanent position, the temporary service firms are allowed to charge placement fees for temporary workers. Temporary service firms will now be legally required to be certified by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs director to conduct business in New Jersey, and any uncertified service firms will be banned from doing business.
Under the new law, at the time of their placement with an employer, the temporary service firm is now required to provide temporary workers with a statement that includes detailed information regarding their work placement assignment, contact information for the service firms and the third-party employer, the worksite location, and contact information for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJ DOL). The duration of the assignment and terms and conditions of the temporary placement must also be included and consistently updated.
The law will also place a new record-keeping requirement on temporary service firms. Firms are now required to retain certain records for six years and are expected to provide copies of said records to any temporary worker or their representative within five days of a written request at no cost.
Going into effect on May 7, 2023, if there is a change in a multi-day assignment's schedule, shift, or location, the temp firms must give temporary workers at least forty-eight hours' notice.
Regarding penalties, temporary service firms can be fined administrative penalties between $500 and $5,000 per violation. Certain violations could also cause firms to deny or revoke their certifications. Workers will also be granted the private right of action to bring claims to the New Jersey superior court. However, claims must be made within six years of employment or termination from the service firm and the third-party employer.
The law further protects temporary workers by containing anti-retaliation provisions. Any action taken against a temporary worker within a ninety-day period of a complaint will be marked as retaliation. Also, temporary workers will be eligible to seek equitable relief or liquidated damages equal to $20,000 per incident of retaliation. In some instances, temporary workers can also be reinstated and receive coverage for any fees and costs associated with their attorney.
For more information regarding the temporary workers' bill or if you are a temporary worker that is concerned about your rights, you can reach out to Morgan & Morgan today.