On February 6, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a controversial bill that will provide sweeping new protections and an expansion of rights for temporary workers in New Jersey, dubbed the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” (A1474/S511). This new law, which represents a significant victory for temporary workers in the Garden State, seeks to increase government oversight of temporary staffing agencies, advance pay equity between temporary workers and regular employees, and preclude retaliatory conduct against temporary workers.
The bill traveled a bumpy road on its legislative journey to the Governor’s desk on Monday. For additional information on the history of this bill, read our prior blog post.
The aptly named law will apply to non-exempt workers who contract with a temporary staffing agency to perform work in several occupational categories, including food preparation, construction labor and trade, personal care services, and building, grounds cleaning, and maintenance, among others.
The range of protections afforded by the new law are expansive. Temporary staffing agencies and companies contracting with temporary staffing agencies are certain to feel the effects of the law, including those provisions governing the rate and method of payment. For example, the law will require temporary laborers to be paid at least the same average rate of pay and equivalent benefits as the third party client’s regular employees performing the same or similar work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions.
The law also prohibits many of the fees that temporary staffing agencies deduct from workers’ paychecks, including deductions for meals and equipment, and temporary workers will be guaranteed to earn at least minimum wage even after permissible fees are deducted from their paychecks by agencies. Additionally, temporary staffing agencies may not require a temporary worker to accept daily paychecks, and must provide bi-weekly paychecks if requested.
Under the new law, temporary staffing agencies will be required to provide temporary workers with written notice of the terms of their assignment, such as rate of pay, how much sick time they will receive, what type of work they will be performing, and the length of assignment, in both English and the worker’s primary language. Further, the law forbids temporary staffing agencies from: (1) restricting the right of a temporary laborer to accept a regular position with a third party client to whom the temporary laborer has been referred for work; (2) restricting the right of a temporary laborer to accept a regular position for any other employment; or (3) retaliating against any temporary worker by firing them or treating them unfairly in any other way for exercising their rights under this legislation.
The law’s notice requirements and anti-retaliation provisions will take effect on May 7, 2023. The other provisions will take effect on August 5, 2023.
New Jersey companies and temporary staffing agencies should review their existing agreements and policies as they relate to temporary laborers, including agreements for services and established payroll practices, to ensure compliance with this new law. In addition, to ensure compliance with the pay and benefits provisions, employers using temporary agencies should assess the pay and benefits for regular employees to ensure that temporary workers are paid in compliance with the new law. Ballard Spahr routinely advises clients navigating these laws and developments.