A new law designed to prevent abuse of the 65,000 temporary workers employed in Massachusetts went into effect on Jan. 31. Under the new law, temp agencies will be required to give each worker a written job order that provides information the worker has a right to expect before going to a job, including designated pay days, actual hourly rate of pay, overtime compensation and more.
The Temporary Workers Right to Know Act also regulates the fees a staffing agency or worksite employer may charge a temp worker. It prohibits fees that would reduce a worker’s pay to below minimum wage; requires the staffing agency to reimburse workers who are sent to worksites when no work is in fact available; and more. The law also provides tools for the Department of Labor Standards to ensure transparency and accountability within in the temp industry.
“This law is so important,” said Soledad Araque, a former temp worker and Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) Worker Center member. “I worked for a temp agency and didn’t get paid all my wages, was charged $3 every day for transportation and got no information about my job. This law will make a huge difference in protecting workers.”
“A temporary worker will now know what wages they can expect, what safety equipment they might need and who to call if they become injured on the job,” added state Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, who was the bill’s lead sponsor in the House. “[Before] there was no law ensuring they had rights to this information. Protecting our residents’ basic rights is critical to progressing as a Commonwealth.”
Monica Halas, lead attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, stressed that the law accomplishes three objectives: It requires temporary agencies to inform workers about their rights; the Department of Labor Standards will ensure that this notification is provided and that temporary agencies are registered; and the Attorney General will enforce workplace protections and prohibit retaliation for asserting workplace rights.
“[This law] will go a long way towards ensuring the dignity, safety and fairness on the job for workers in temporary jobs,” Halas said.