A new Right-to-Know Law has gone into effect in Massachusetts that was developed to ensure the commonwealth's contract workers are aware of all necessary employment information. The legislation was drafted in an effort to protect the contingent workforce from various employer infractions.
According to EHS Today, the law is expected to protect some 65,000 contract laborers throughout Massachusetts. The law stipulates that temporary staffing firms must describe all conditions that are expected before starting a new positions, as well as information on designated pay days, hourly rates, overtime pay and other factors.
The state's Temporary Workers Right to Know Act also maintains the fees that are associated with using a staffing firm, and ensures no company can introduce fees that would make a contract employer's pay fall below minimum wage. It also mandates staffing companies to pay workers who are dispatched to their job site, even if they don't end up performing any tasks. Under the new law, the Department of Labor Standards will be able to better maintain transparency and accountability throughout the temporary staffing sector.
"This law is so important," said Soledad Araque, a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) Worker Center. "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."
State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, who sponsored the bill the Massachusetts House of Representatives, added that the law will greatly improve the conditions in which temporary workers operate.
"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," she said. "[Before] there was no law ensuring they had rights to this information. Protecting our residents' basic rights is critical to progressing as a Commonwealth."
It's the Law
Legal representatives say the law is a huge win, and will make a significant impact in three key ways: temp firms will be required to detail the rights of workers, the DOL will be tasked with overseeing this occurs and the state Attorney General will better enforce these protections, according to the news source.
"[This law] will go a long way towards ensuring the dignity, safety and fairness on the job for workers in temporary jobs," said Monica Halas, lead attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services.
Tom Kiley Sr., a wage and hour attorney with Kiley Law Group, stated that the law will give temp workers a "fighting chance," and that for years there have been several reports of employers taking advantage of their temporary workforce, knowing that they won't be with the firm for any extended period.
He noted that specifically, the law is expected to keep employers from charging temporary employees for procuring a position, registering their employment with the commonwealth or for submitting a CORI request.
"No one deserves to wonder when there work day will start and end or whether their employer will deduct unknown costs from their paychecks," Kiley said. "These are exactly the types of acts that would now be considered violations."
However, employers have noted that there are other, simpler and even more cost-effective temporary labor solutionsthat can help keep costs down, in addition to complying with the new law. Emerging labor management solutions have shown that employing contract workers on a pay for performance basis can lower costs by as much as 15 percent by reducing turnover and ensuring a company makes the right hire.
By taking this approach, employers can keep costs down while at the same time be compliant with the new law that has gone into effect.