Temporary workers in New Jersey can now benefit from a sweeping expansion of their employment rights thanks to newly revised legislation.
The legislation – known as the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” – was enacted earlier this year after a long battle through the State’s Legislature. Following its enactment, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) created a web page to educate workers and provide guidance for compliance.
Levinson Axelrod, P.A. has supported this law since its proposal and has taken the time to outline some of its key protections below.
About New Jersey’s Temp Worker Bill of Rights
New Jersey’s Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights was inspired by a 2016 investigative series called “Invisible Workforce” that revealed how temp agencies routinely exploited and mistreated low-wage temp workers by sending them to factories and warehouses for assignments lasting days, weeks, or even years. The investigation noted that many temp workers feared speaking out about dangerous working conditions, missed paychecks, and other mistreatment due to their immigration status.
Now that it has been enacted, the legislation greatly expands the rights of temporary laborers, which includes an estimated 127,000 temporary workers employed by more than 100 temp / staffing agencies across the state.
Some of the most important protections and rights afforded to temp workers under the law include:
- The right to receive basic information in English and a worker’s native language about job location, duties, compensation, and sick time.
- Elimination of various fees temp agencies deduct from workers’ paychecks, including worksite transportation fees.
- Prohibiting temp agencies from engaging in efforts to block workers from getting hired for permanent positions at companies where they temp.
- New anti-retaliation and equal pay provisions that provide greater protections to workers who speak out about mistreatment and pay violations.
Key Provisions of the Law
As of August 5, 2023, all provisions of the Temporary Workers Bill of Rights are in effect. This includes:
Notification requirements for temp agencies to:
- Provide temporary workers with an Assignment Notification Form that includes contact information of the temp service and third-party client, wages, nature of the assignment, right to Earned Sick Leave, and more.
- Notify workers at least 48 hours in advance if there are changes in the location or schedule of a multi-day assignment.
- Inform temp workers of any ongoing strikes or other labor disputes at worksites and their right to refuse the assignment.
- Temp agencies and third-party clients are prohibited from retaliating (defined as any adverse action within 90 days of a protected activity) against temp workers for exercising their rights to file complaints, cooperate with investigations, or inform others of their rights under the law.
Pay requirements when assignments change:
- Temp workers are entitled to paid hours if there isn’t work at the location they are assigned or if they are transferred.
- If a temp worker is hired to work for a third-party client but is not needed, they are owed a minimum of 4 hours’ pay for the cancelled shift at the agreed upon rate.
- If a worker is asked to work at another location during your shift, they must be paid a minimum of two hours’ pay for the change in location, and the temp agency must pay for any hours worked at the new location.
- Temp agencies cannot charge for transportation they provide to and from worksites.
- Temp agencies cannot direct workers to travel to worksites with any person unless that person is a mass transit system or the transportation is provided at no cost.
- Temporary workers cannot be paid less than the average rate of pay and average costs of benefits of a third-party client’s employees who perform the same or substantially similar work on jobs where performance requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.
Right to legal action:
- In addition to filing complaints with the NJDOL, temporary workers who believe their rights have been violated can pursue civil lawsuits to recover damages or equitable relief. These actions must be brought in the county where the violation occurred within six years of employment with the agency or the end of the contract with the third-party client.
Who is Covered?
Protections under the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights cover “temporary laborers,” which are workers who are placed by temp service agencies in temporary assignments involving work in occupations as designated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some examples include:
- Construction (i.e. trades helpers and construction laborers)
- Food preparation and service workers
- Installation, maintenance, and repair workers
- Production (i.e. laundry and dry cleaning, food processing, textile and food workers)
- Transportation and moving (i.e. drivers, parking attendants, and material moving)
- Personal care and services (i.e. amusement, entertainment, and dressing room attendants)
- Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance (i.e. janitors, cleaners, and landscapers)
- Protective services (i.e. security guards and crossing guards)
Levinson Axelrod, P.A.: Fighting for NJ Workers Since 1939
As a firm that has fought for New Jersey workers since 1939, our team at Levinson Axelrod, P.A. supports this legislation and the much-needed protections it affords temp workers, who like other types of non-full-time employees are vulnerable to employment mistreatment. And although the law may also impact how temp agencies and employers utilizing their services structure contracts, temp workers should still have options should they suffer injuries on the job. This can include workers’ compensation provided by a temp agency or a recovery from liability insurance carried by the client company.
If you or someone you love were injured on the job as a temp worker, our team of award-winning attorneys at Levinson Axelrod, P.A. can help explore your rights and legal options. For a FREE consultation, call (732) 440-3089 or contact us online.