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Governor Signs Union-Supported Bill to Protect Temporary Workers

It's now illegal to not tell temporary workers how much they will be paid or where they will be working.

The governor this week signed union-backed legislation requiring temporary staffing agencies to be honest, straightforward and forthcoming with relevant work information.

As of Monday it became illegal for such staffing agencies to send a worker off for a job without telling him or her where it was, what the job entailed or how much the pay would be. 

The bill, "An Act Establishing a Temporary Workers Right to Know," requires temp agencies to provide workers with the following information before they leave for a temporary job:

  • Employer's name
  • Employer's address
  • Employer's telephone number
  • Name of the staffing agent facilitating the placement
  • Name of the employer's workers compensation carrier
  • Description of the job and whether it requires special clothing, equipment or training
  • Costs to the employees for clothing, equipment or training
  • Designated pay day
  • Hourly pay rate
  • Policies on overtime
  • Anticipated start and finish times
  • Expected duration of employment
  • Provision of meals and costs to employees
  • Provision of transportation and costs to employees

The law also forbids staffing agencies from lying to workers about the above information, and from charging fees to register with the agency or to perform a criminal background check. Any fee that would bring the employee's hourly wage below minimum wage is also illegal. Furthermore, if an agency sends an employee to a work site  but no work is available, the agency must reimburse the employee. 

Excluded from this act, however, are "professional" jobs as described by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and secretarial and administrative assistants as outlined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The bill was lauded by unions, activists and lawmakers. "This basic information and these basic protections will improve the safety and increase the dignity of these most vulnerable, most exploited workers," said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven A. Tolman. 

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