Many employers rely on the services of employment, placement, and staffing agencies to help them meet short-term staffing needs or to help them find the right person for a job. If you are thinking of working with an employment, placement, or staffing agency, there are a few things that you should know:
Agencies are regulated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and must be either licensed or registered in accordance with the Employment Agency Law (M.G.L. c. 140, §§46A-46R). Only work with agencies that are properly licensed or registered.
Currently licensed and registered agencies are listed here:
Staffing agencies and their clients (work site employers) are subject to the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law (M.G.L. c. 149, §159C), which requires that staffing agencies provide workers with certain, basic information about their work assignments, and notify workers of their rights under the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law. The law also sets limitations on the amounts and types of fees that staffing agencies and work site employers can charge workers, and certain activities on that part of staffing agencies are prohibited by law. If you’re interested in learning more about this, please visit DLS’s Information for Staffing Agencies link.
Obligations of Worksite Employers under the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law
As discussed above, the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law prohibits staffing agencies and their clients (work site employers) from charging job applicants or workers, who are provided by staffing agencies, certain fees. These prohibited fees/charges include: The cost of registering with the staffing agency or providing the job applicant/worker with employment; drug screens, bank/debit card or other form of payment that are higher than the cost to the staffing agency/work site employer; CORI check (MA criminal record information check) as provided by the MA Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS); any good or service, unless the job applicant/worker, sent by the staffing agency to your work site, has signed a written contract that makes clear that it is voluntary and that the staffing agency/work site employer will not profit from the fee charged; any good or service that would cause the job applicant/worker to earn less than the Massachusetts minimum wage. Finally, transportation costs that: (1) are greater than the actual cost of the transportation, (2) are higher than 3% of the total daily wages, or (3) reduce the job applicant/worker’s wages below minimum wage are prohibited. Additionally, if a job applicant or worker is required to use specific transportation to get to the work site, no fees can be charged.
- The laws regulating employment, placement, and staffing agencies do not regulate fees that employment or staffing agencies can charge to clients/worksite employers for their services.
- Keeping temporary workers safe is a shared responsibility between agencies and worksite employers: Responsibility for Keeping Temporary Workers Safe
- Beware of working with unscrupulous agencies engaging in illegal behavior, such as paying a worker less than the Minimum Wage, or supplying workers to you who do not have the proper licensure or certification required to perform a job. These are illegal activities, violations of which can result in civil fines up to $15,000 or $25,000 for willful violations and will be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division.
The Department of Labor Standards inspects the records and premises of employment, placement, and staffing agencies and investigates complaints. If you have a complaint about an 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