New legislation in Massachusetts expands rights for temporary workers, including prohibiting unfair fees charged by staffing agencies and worksite employers, according to EHS Today. The Temporary Workers Right-to-Know Actwent into effect Jan. 31, as Massachusetts joins other state and local governments that have approved measures to protect temporary or low-wage workers.
The Massachusetts law is designed to prevent abuse of the state’s 65,000 temporary workers. The measure requires that temp agencies give each worker a written job order spelling out working conditions before going on a job, including designated pay days, hourly rate of pay and overtime compensation.
It prohibits agencies or employers from charging fees that would reduce a worker’s pay to below minimum wage. Staffing agencies must also reimburse workers who are sent to worksites when no work is actually available.
“This law will make a huge difference in protecting workers,” Soledad Araque, a former temp worker and member of a Massachusetts workers’ rights group, told EHS. “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.”
Other governments also have enacted worker protection measures. Last month, Chicago passed a wage theft law cracking down on employers who cut corners on wages owed to employees, including not paying overtime and paying below minimum wage. Similar laws have also been passed in Illinois and New York state, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Miami-Dade (Fla.) County.
In 1994, Baltimore became the first major city to enact a Living Wage Ordinance. Since then, more than 130 localities have passed similar measures.