New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights into law on Feb. 6. The law provides compensation, benefits, and protections for temporary workers, increases transparency, and restricts placement fees paid to temporary staffing agencies. The best way for employers, staffing agencies, and temps to understand the implications of the new law is to consult an experienced employment law attorney.
Temporary Workers’ Rights in New Jersey
The new law applies to temporary workers placed with third-party employers through staffing agencies in the following occupations: security, restaurant and food preparation, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, personal care, construction, repair, production, transportation, and material moving.
Key provisions of the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights include:
Under the law’s equal-pay-equal-benefits provision, covered temporary workers must be paid the same average compensation rate and benefits (or cash equivalent) paid to permanent employees in positions with similar skillsets, responsibilities, and working conditions. Staffing agencies and employers are jointly and severally liable for violations of this provision.
While temporary service firms can charge a placement fee to employers, temp agencies must disclose the amount on temporary workers’ payment stubs and notice forms. Temporary staffing firms must also provide workers with an itemized statement when wages are paid disclosing:
- Number of hours worked each day
- Rate of pay
- Total earnings for the pay period
- Deductions withheld from compensation
Covered staffing firms must also provide temporary workers with an annual earnings summary by February 1 of each year (the IRS already requires employers to provide an annual W-2 wage statement by January 31).
The law bars temporary service firms from:
- Restricting a temporary worker’s right to accept permanent employment at an employer with which they are placed (or any other employer)
- Restricting employers from offering such employment
Temporary service firms may charge placement fees for workers hired permanently, but the law caps such fees.
Temporary service firms must be certified by the director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to do business in the state – the law prohibits employers from doing business with temporary service firms not certified.
The law requires temporary service firms to provide a statement to temporary workers at the time of their placement that includes details about their assignment, including the contact information for the:
- Service firm
- Third-party employer
- New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJ DOL).
The statement must also disclose the terms and conditions of the temporary placement and the duration of the assignment. Staffing agencies must also provide temporary workers with at least forty-eight hours’ notice if there is a change in the worker’s schedule, shift, or location for multi-day assignments.
Temporary service firms may be assessed administrative penalties between $500 and $5,000 per violation and are subject to having their certification denied or revoked. Temporary workers also have a private right of action to bring claims within six years of employment with the temp agency or termination of a contract between an agency and a third-party employer.
Protection Against Retaliation
An adverse action taken against a temporary worker within 90 days of filing a complaint is presumed to be retaliatory. Temporary workers can seek equitable relief or liquated damages equal to $20,000 per incident of retaliation, reinstatement (if practicable), and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Generally, the law becomes effective on August 5, 2023; however, the notice and anti-retaliation provisions take effect on May 7, 2023.
The New Jersey Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights provides temporary workers with strong legal protections and imposes additional obligations on temporary staffing firms and employers. Temp agencies and employers that use temporary workers should work with an experienced employment lawyer to ensure their contracts and agreements comply with the new law.