In an effort to deter massive employment abuse, and in a nod to those employers who refuse to take the low road but suffer serious economic disadvantages against competitors who cut corners, Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law new requirements for temporary staffing agencies. Now, in addition to other requirements, these employers may no longer charge undisclosed fees to temporary employees, must inform those employees of their employer’s identity and telephone number, and may no longer provide false or misleading information.
Temporary employees vary widely from those waiting on road sides and in Home Depot parking lots, to those who endure more careful scrutiny through temporary services employment agencies. Nevertheless, while many employers provide workers’ compensation insurance, proper tax reporting and lawful wages, some businesses have elected a different course, taking advantage of people in desperate need for work.
This new law is intended to change all that, as temporary employers must now provide contact information for both the staffing agency as well as the employer, provide a description of the job and the pay rates, and detail the transportation requirements, if any. Temporary employers may no longer charge fees for registering with the agency, charge fees in excess of actual cost for bank cards and drug screens, or charge transportation fees if those charges exceed 3% of the daily wage. Lastly, the agencies may no longer provide false or misleading information, assign employees to perform illegal work, or refuse to return an employee’s personal property.
While these laws do not apply to employees that qualify as professionals or administrative assistants, they should help set the floor for proper conduct in the workplace across a broad set of industries and level the competitive playing field for employers working hard to comply with the law.