What is the difference between an Employment Agency, a Placement Agency, and a Staffing Agency?

An employment agency is any person who conducts in whole or in part a business which, for a fee, procures or attempts to procure permanent or temporary help or employment or engagements, or registers persons seeking such help, employment, or engagement, or gives information as to where and of whom such help, employment, or engagement may be procured, where a fee is exacted or attempted to be collected from a job applicant or worker, or if the agency places domestic employees.  A Domestic Employee is any worker who is paid directly by a household, family, or individual to perform work of a domestic nature, including, but not limited to, housekeeping, home management, nanny services, child monitoring, caretaking, laundering, cooking, home companion services, house sitting, and butler services for members of households or their guests in or about private homes. Domestic Employee does not include a person who performs services of a domestic nature as an employee of the business that places him, or a licensed medical professional, such as a medical doctor, registered or licensed practical nurse, or similarly trained and licensed individual who performs services relating to the delivery of specialized medical care. 

A placement agency is any person who conducts in whole or in part a business in which a fee is exacted or attempted to be collected for procuring or attempting to procure permanent or temporary help or employment or engagements; or registering individuals seeking such help, employment, or engagement; or giving information as to where and of whom such help, employment, or engagement may be procured, but who: (a) employs such individuals for the purpose of furnishing part time or temporary help; or (b) does not assess job placement fees to any job applicant or worker; or (c) conducts a business which consists solely of providing employers or prospective employers, by electronic means, biographical information, background and experience of applicants for temporary employment, help or engagement.

Agencies that procure or provide temporary or part time employment to any individual who then works under the supervision or direction of a work site employer are staffing agencies.   There is not a “staffing agency license” or “staffing agency registration;” staffing agencies must always be either licensed as employment agencies or registered as placement agencies with the Department of Labor Standards.  Staffing agencies are also subject to the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law (M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 159C links to PDF file