Gov. Murphy signs “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” into law
Landmark Legislation Bolsters Support for a Workforce Predominantly Comprised of Immigrants and Workers of Color
NEW JERSEY – In a significant step for vulnerable workers in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy Monday signed A1474/S511, commonly referred to as the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights.”
This legislation significantly expands the rights and protections afforded to temporary workers, and was sent to the Governor’s desk after the Legislature concurred with changes recommended by the Governor last September.
“Our temporary workers, regardless of their race or status, are key contributors to the workforce in our state,” Murphy said. “Signing the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights establishes necessary guidelines for temporary help service firms and third-party clients to ensure that these workers are afforded basic protections and treated with the dignity they deserve. I am especially grateful to Senator Joe Cryan, Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, and the many workers’ rights advocates for their leadership and tireless efforts on this issue.”
The bill allows for greater oversight of temporary help service firms and third-party clients by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) and the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) within the Department of Law and Public Safety. Under the bill, DCA will oversee enhanced certification requirements for temporary help service firms. Contracting with uncertified firms will be prohibited for third-party clients. Enforcement actions will fall under NJDOL’s purview.
“Every worker should be treated with respect and dignity. Thanks to the Murphy Administration and the Legislature, temporary workers will now have additional tools available to secure the fair wages and protections they are entitled to under the law – yet another advancement strengthening New Jersey as the gold standard for worker protections and development,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
In an effort to advance pay equity, the bill will allow for temporary workers to be paid at least the same average rate of pay and equivalent benefits as the third-party client’s permanent employees performing the same or similar work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility. At the request of a temporary worker, temporary help service firms must hold daily wages and provide biweekly pay checks to avoid unnecessary check cashing fees that eat away at earnings. The bill also prohibits pay deductions for meals and equipment that would reduce temporary workers’ pay below minimum wage.
Under a law signed by Governor Murphy in 2019, the minimum wage was set to gradually raise to $15 per hour by 2024 for most employees. The statewide minimum wage increased to $14.13, effective, January 1, 2023. Firms and third-party clients will also be prohibited from charging fees to transport temporary workers to their work sites.
Additionally, temporary help services must provide temporary workers with common sense information detailing key terms of employment in the workers’ primary languages, such as hours worked and rate of pay.
Temporary service firms are prohibited from restricting an employee from accepting another position with a permanent employer or a third-party client. Further, the bill forbids temporary help service firms or third-party clients from retaliating against any temporary worker by firing them or treating them unfairly in any other way for exercising their legal rights.
“This historic legislation is the result of organizing led by temp workers from across New Jersey. In 2019, I lost my brother to a workplace accident when his skull was crushed while working for an unlicensed temp agency. Too many temp workers have lost their lives on the job, have had their health put at risk, or have been subject to wage theft or retaliation. Today marks the beginning of a new chapter where temp workers will have the respect, dignity and safety they deserve. We thank Governor Murphy for his leadership, our tenacious sponsors Senator Joseph Cryan and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez for their dedication and perseverance, and the powerful coalition of labor, community and worker organizations.” said Janeth Caicedo, member leader of Make the Road New Jersey. “This type of legislation protecting an overlooked workforce is the first of its kind in the nation, but will certainly not be the last. In Illinois, temp workers and labor advocates are introducing a legislation that will update its current law to include equal pay, transparency in job assignments, and additional requirements for safety training that will hopefully protect workers and their families from the types of tragedies my family has experienced. “