Massachusetts Bill Provides Protection to Temporary Workers
September 5, 2012 10:37 am
Labor Day heralded a victory for temporary workers in Massachusetts, as Governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 4304, “The Temporary Workers’ Right to Know Act,” into law. The law, which is effective January 31st, 2013, will provide basic information and protections to the state’s temporary workers, including immigrant workers, who can currently be charged for transportation to and from work and be given minimal information on assignments.
Monica Halas of Greater Boston Legal Services spoke to Labor Notes on the burgeoning temporary worker industry’s shoddy practices: “The nature of the relationship is already set up to abuse workers,” she said, “because it’s the temp agency and the employer that arrange conditions of the job, with no say by the worker. It’s like a mirror image of a labor union.”
Workers are often picked up for their jobs knowing nothing about the company that has hired them, and “[i]f employers cheat such workers on their pay, there is no paper trail. Even if they are paid by check, the agency’s name might not be on it.” The bill will limit transportation costs currently shouldered by workers and inform temps in writing of the name, address and phone number of the temp agency. The law will also force staffing agencies to provide information on the employer, DOL labor standards and worker compensation. House Bill 4304 will provide invaluable information on the start and end time of the job, training required and the rate of pay. Workers who show up to find no work available will be paid for at least a half-day (four hours) of work.
Jason Pramas talked about the potential impact of these seemingly basic protections in Open Media Boston:
Although innocuous-sounding on paper, these simple reforms will make it much easier for advocates and the relevant government officials to track abusive employers and bring them to justice. It will also make it easier for low-wage temp workers by providing a paper trail and clear information about who to contact in the event of violations of their basic labor rights on the job.
Image from here