New Jersey Enacts Protections for Temporary Workers
Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor
February 21, 2023
Temporary workers in New Jersey will have greater protections against unpaid wages, unsafe working conditions, unlawful deductions, and other forms of mistreatment under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The New Jersey Temporary Workers' Bill of Rights covers an estimated 130,000 temporary workers.
"Our temporary workers, regardless of their race or status, are key contributors to the workforce in our state," Gov. Murphy said. "Signing the Temporary Workers' Bill of Rights establishes necessary guidelines for temporary help service firms and third-party clients to ensure that these workers are afforded basic protections and treated with the dignity they deserve."
In passing the law, the legislature found that low-wage temporary laborers themselves are particularly vulnerable to labor rights abuses, including: unpaid wages; failure to pay for all hours worked; minimum wage and overtime violations; and unsafe working conditions. In addition, these workers often are subject to unlawful deductions from their pay for meals, transportation, equipment and other items.
The law applies only to temporary laborers assigned to perform work in specified industrial classifications, including:
- Protective services;
- Food preparation and services;
- Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance;
- Personal care;
- Construction trades and laborers; and
- Transportation and material moving.
The law requires temporary staffing agencies to pay covered temporary workers the same average rate of pay and equivalent benefits as their third-party clients' permanent employees performing the same or similar work. Agencies also must provide workers with notice about their assigned workplace, contact information, hours of work, duration of the contract and other information on their working conditions.
Among other protections, the law also:
- Prohibits deductions for meals and equipment that would reduce a worker's rate of pay below the minimum wage;
- Makes it unlawful for an agency or its client to charge for transportation to or from the worksite; and
- Requires temporary staffing agencies to keep and maintain records of each laborer they assign and detailed information about their work assignments, wages and hours, and make the records available to review and copy at no cost to the worker.
Temporary staffing agencies and their third-party clients are prohibited from discharging or otherwise retaliating against a temporary worker for exercising their rights under the law. The agency and the third-party employer may be jointly and separately liable for violations of the law, including for payment of wages and taxes.