Workers or job applicants looking to work for a staffing agency or using the services of an employment or placement agency should only work with agencies that are properly licensed or registered. The Employment Agency Law and Temporary Workers Right to Know Law are designed to protect workers from unscrupulous business practices and safeguard their earnings.  If you are working with an agency, be sure to ask for clarification by the agency if you are unsure of the nature of the employment relationship between you, the agency, and the employer with whom you are referred or placed.

If you are working for a staffing agency, here are some things that you should know:

Under the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law which applies only to staffing agencies, workers have a right to know the basic information about their job.  The law requires staffing agencies to provide job applicants and workers with a job order containing basic information before going to a job, such as the staffing agency’s contact information; workers’ compensation carrier; the rate of pay for the job and the designated pay day; shift start and end time; details related to any meals or transportation; whether the position requires special clothing, tools, licenses, or training; and the name and address of the worksite employer.  Job information may be given over the telephone as long as it is confirmed in writing before the end of the first pay period.  A job order form with all required information may be accessed by clicking Sample Job Order pdf format of Sample Job Order
.  “Professionals,” “secretaries or administrative assistants” are not required to be provided the job order notice information under the law.  If you do not receive written confirmation from the staffing agency of all of this information before the end of the first pay period, you may contact the Department of Labor Standards’ Employment, Placement, and Staffing Agencies Program at 617-626-6970 or file a complaint using this Complaint Form pdf format of Complaint Form
.

Workers must be advised of their rights under the Temporary Workers; Right to Know Law.   Staffing agencies must post a notice of the workers’ rights provided under this law, as well as the DLS’ contact information.   You should see ( Notice of Temporary Workers’  Rights under the TWRTK pdf format of Notice of Temporary Workers’  Rights under the TWRTK
) posted in the staffing agency with which you are working.  If you do not see this notice posted by the staffing agency, you may contact the Department of Labor Standards’ Employment, Placement, and Staffing Agencies Program at 617-626-6970 or file a complaint using this Complaint Form pdf format of Complaint Form
.

Fees that a staffing agency or worksite employer can charge to job applicant or worker are covered by the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law. The law prohibits a staffing agency or work site employer from charging job applicants for workers for the following:

  1. The cost of registering with the staffing agency or procuring employment.
  2. The provision of a drug screen, bank/debit card or other form of payment that exceeds the actual cost per applicant.
  3. A CORI request (MA criminal record information check as provided by the MA Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS).
  4. Transportation costs which exceed the actual cost of the transportation, exceed 3% of total daily wages, or reduce wages below minimum wage. Additionally, if specific transportation services are required, no fees can be charged.
  5. Any good or service (unless done under the terms of a written contract that makes clear that it is voluntary and for which the staffing agency will not profit from the fee charged)
  6. Any good or service that would cause the applicant or employee to earn less than the minimum wage.

If you are charged for these items by the staffing agency or worksite employer, you may contact the Department of Labor Standards’ Employment, Placement, and Staffing Agencies Program at 617-626-6970 or file a complaint using this Complaint Form pdf format of Complaint Form
.

If you are sent to a work site for a job assignment where no job exists, your reasonable transportation costs to that work site must be refunded to you by the staffing agency.  No transportation costs are required to be reimbursed if you are sent to a work site for a job interview.

Staffing agencies are prohibited from engaging in certain activities.  Under the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law, staffing agencies may not:

  • Knowingly provide false, fraudulent, or misleading information to job applicants or workers;
  • Use any name that they have not registered with DLS;
  • Assign or place a job applicant or worker by force, fraud, or for illegal purposes; or where the employment is in violation of state or federal laws governing minimum wage, child labor, compulsory school attendance, required licensure or certification;
  • Assign or place a job applicant or worker at any location that is on strike or lockout without notifying the employee of this fact;
  • Refuse to return personal belongings or excessive fees or charges to a job applicant or worker upon request by the worker; or
  • Retaliate against a job applicant or worker for exercising his or her rights under the TWRTKL.

If you have a question or a complaint about a staffing agency, you may contact DLS.  We can answer any questions you may have about these laws and their applicability.

If you are working with an employment agency, here are some things that you should know:

Employment agencies must provide certain information to job applicants, such as the name and address of the person for whom the applicant is to apply for employment, the kind and character of the employment, the anticipated rate of wages or compensation, the agency fee, whether such employment is permanent or temporary, etc.  For more information on what needs to be furnished to a job applicant, see M.G.L. c. 140, §46I.

There are also limits on how much employment agencies can charge for applicant fees.  An applicant fee is any money or other valuable consideration paid by an applicant or worker to the employment agency for employment procurement services rendered by the agency. Examples of fees may include, but are not limited to, money paid to an agency from the worker for a placement, and a modeling agency commission, or a “headhunting” fee charged by an employment agency to a job applicant for securing a permanent employment with a company. It is not legal for an employment agency to charge a job applicant a registration fee in order to secure the services of an agency.  Any fees charged by an employment agency must be in accordance with a written contract, a copy of which must be provided to the job applicant. Visit M.G.L. c. 140, §46L for more information about limitations on applicant fees.

Employment agencies are prohibited from engaging in certain conduct as outlined by the Employment Agency Law.  For example, it is illegal for an employment agency to send any person to an employer where the employment agency knows, or reasonably should have known, that the prospective employment would be in violation of state or federal laws governing minimum wages or child labor. It is illegal for an employment agency to require that job applicants subscribe to any publication or incidental service or contribute to the cost of advertising, or to send any applicant to a place which the agency knows or should know is on strike unless the fact of such strike is told to the applicant.  For more information about prohibited activities, see M.G.L. c. 140, §46K.

If you have a complaint about an employment agency’s business practices, please contact the Department of Labor Standards’ Employment, Placement, and Staffing Agencies Program at 617-626-6970 or file a complaint using this Complaint Form pdf format of Complaint Form

Licensed Employment Agencies and Registered Placement Agencies List xls format of Licensed Employment and Registered Placement Agencies

View a list of agencies operating in Massachusetts that are licensed or registered in accordance with the law.

Sample Job Order
If you are working for a staffing agency, you are required to be provided with the information contained in this form.  The notice requirement does not apply to “professionals,” “secretaries or administrative assistants.” 

Notice of Temporary Workers’  Rights under the TWRTK pdf format of Notice of Temporary Workers’  Rights under the TWRTK
 
Staffing agencies must post a multi- lingual notice of the workers’ rights provided under the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law, as well as the DLS’ contact information, in a visible location at each of its office locations, in a form provided by the DLS. 

Temporary Agencies and Worksite Employers Share Responsibility for Keeping Temporary Workers Safe

Complaint Form pdf format of Complaint Form
 

Employment Agency Law, M.G.L. c. 140, §§46A-46R

Temporary Workers Right to Know Law, M.G.L. c. 149, §159C (effective 1/31/13)

Related Links to Assist Workers and Job Applicants