New legal requirements of staffing agencies to take effect January 31, 2013

On August 7, 2012, 2012 An Act Establishing a Temporary Workers right to Know  pdf format of 2012 An Act Establishing a Temporary Workers rights
was signed. This new law, which amended Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 149, Section 159C, will be effective on January 31, 2013. The Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS), under the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, will administer this new law, while the Office of the Attorney General will be the enforcing entity. Below are some of the key elements that staffing agencies and temporary workers should know:

Workers have a right to know the basic information about their job. The law requires staffing agencies to provide employees with notice of 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; 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 of the worksite employer. Job information can be given over the telephone as long as it is confirmed in writing before the end of the first pay period. The DLS will provide a sample notice to all staffing agencies that will satisfy the notification requirements prescribed by the law.

The notification requirements do not apply to “professionals,” “secretaries or administrative assistants.”

Workers must be advised of their rights under this law. Staffing agencies must post a notice of the workers’ rights provided under this law, as well as the DLS’ contact information. The DLS will provide a sample notice to all staffing agencies that will satisfy the notification requirements prescribed by the law.

Staffing agencies will continue to be licensed or registered with DLS, as well as inspected. Currently, M.G.L. c. 140, sec. 46A-46R mandates that staffing agencies be either licensed or registered by DLS, as well as inspected by DLS compliance officers. This will continue as the new law does not change these statutes.

Fees that a staffing agency or worksite employer charge to a temporary worker are covered by this new law. The new law prohibits a staffing agency from charging 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

4. All transportation costs (except those provided for below)

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.

Transportation costs cannot be more than 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. Lastly, an agency must refund any transportation fees if no employment exists.

The law does not regulate fees that staffing agencies can charge to worksite employers for their services.

Staffing agencies are prohibited from engaging in certain activities. Under the law, staffing agencies may not:

    • Knowingly provide false, fraudulent, or misleading information to workers;
    • Use any name that they have not registered with DLS;
    • Assign or place an employee by force, fraud, or for illegal purposes; or
    • Refuse to return personal belongings or excessive fees or charges to an employee.

Violations of this law can result in civil fines up to $15,000 or $25,000 for willful violations.

DLS will be promulgating the regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this law. A public hearing will be held before any regulation is finalized.