On January 31, 2013, "An Act Establishing Temporary Workers Right to Know" goes into effect in Massachusetts. The law requires temporary staffing agencies to provide temporary employees with comprehensive, individualized, pre-employment information regarding each new work assignment, limits the fees for which agencies and worksite employers may charge temporary employees, and requires staffing agencies to reimburse temporary employees sent to worksites where no work is available. Violations of the law can result in civil fines and criminal penalties. Staffing agencies should review their current practices and ensure that they are compliant.
Under the law, staffing agencies will need to provide temporary employees with (1) the contact information for the staffing agency, the workers' compensation carrier, the worksite employer, and the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS); (2) a description of the position and any special requirements for the position; (3) the designated pay day, the hourly rate, and whether overtime pay may occur; (4) the anticipated schedule and project duration; (5) whether meals will be provided and, if so, any charge to the employee; and (6) details about transportation to the worksite and any fees for such transportation. Although staffing agencies may provide this information via telephone, they must provide written confirmation before the end of the first pay period. Staffing agencies must also post this information in a conspicuous place in each of its locations and in languages other than English, when appropriate. These disclosure requirements do not apply to professional employees, as defined in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or to secretaries and administrative assistants with certain enumerated duties.
The law also prohibits staffing agencies and worksite employers from charging fees for the following: (1) the cost of registering with the agency or for procuring employment; (2) any goods or services unless the there is a written contract on point and provided the employer does not profit from the fee; (3) issuing a bank card, debit card, payroll card, voucher, draft, money order or similar form of payment or wages, or any drug screen, that exceeds the actual cost per applicant/employee; (4) a criminal record offender information request; and (5) transportation, unless the charge is no more than the actual cost of the transportation, does not exceed 3% of the employee's total daily wages, and does not reduce the employee's daily wages to below the minimum wage. Staffing agencies and worksite employees cannot make a deduction from an employee's wages without the employee's express written authorization. Finally, the law prohibits staffing agencies from engaging in certain conduct, such as providing false information to any applicant or employee and placing an employee for an illegal purpose or in violation of the law. The DLS has stated that it will promulgate regulations after a public hearing.
Staffing agencies should consider immediately reaching out to their Massachusetts clients, as they will be required to obtain additional information from clients prior to contacting temporary employees regarding assignments. Staffing agencies should also review whether any of their temporary employees are exempt from the notice requirements. Worksite employers should review any fees they currently charge to temporary employees to ensure compliance with the law.