Temp workers to receive more rights in New Jersey
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed legislation that aims to increase the rights, and likely the pay, of temporary workers in the Garden State.
The Murphy Administration says the law bolsters support for a workforce predominantly comprised of immigrants and people of color.
With the new law, temp workers must be paid at least the same average rate of pay as permanent employees performing similar work. They must also receive equivalent benefits.
At the same time, entities will be prohibited from charging fees to transport temps to their work sites, and pay deductions for meals and equipment would be prohibited if they bring a worker's pay below minimum wage.
"Our temporary workers, regardless of their race or status, are key contributors to the workforce in our state," 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."
Under the bill, temp workers may request that their pay be provided in biweekly checks so that check cashing fees don't eat away at earnings.
"For the over 130,000 temporary workers in New Jersey and their families, the signing of A1474 represents a historic victory of labor rights," said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, D-Middlesex. "Temporary workers have been treated differently for far too long and have been forced to deal with a multitude of injustices all while carrying out essential work and trying to provide for their families."
The bill of rights has been the focus of criticism by business groups who are concerned that the mandates will be too expensive to follow.
According to the bill's language, most of the requirements will not go into effect for another six months.
With the law, temporary service firms are prohibited from restricting an employee from accepting another permanent position elsewhere. Also, temp workers can't be retaliated against — termination or unfair treatment, for example — for exercising their legal rights.
"Winning this bill lets the agencies know the power we have as workers and saying 'no more' to injustices and discrimination," said Germania Hernandez, New Labor organizer and former temp worker. "For workers this is about filling us with hope and having a baseline to demand our rights as workers."