Last week, Governor New Jersey Phil Murphy’s office announced “a significant step for vulnerable workers in New Jersey” when the Governor signed A1474/S511, commonly referred to as the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights.”
Here is a summary of some of the key provisions from the press release:
In an effort to advance pay equity, the bill will allow for temporary workers to be paid at least the same average rate of pay and equivalent benefits as the third-party client’s permanent employees performing the same or similar work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility. At the request of a temporary worker, temporary help service firms must hold daily wages and provide biweekly pay checks to avoid unnecessary check cashing fees that eat away at earnings. The bill also prohibits pay deductions for meals and equipment that would reduce temporary workers’ pay below minimum wage…Firms and third-party clients will also be prohibited from charging fees to transport temporary workers to their work sites.
Additionally, temporary help services must provide temporary workers with common sense information detailing key terms of employment in the workers’ primary languages, such as hours worked and rate of pay.
Temporary service firms are prohibited from restricting an employee from accepting another position with a permanent employer or a third-party client. Further, the bill forbids temporary help service firms or third-party clients from retaliating against any temporary worker by firing them or treating them unfairly in any other way for exercising their legal rights.
The new law isn’t as sweeping as it sounds — it only covers temporary staffing agencies in particular industries.
Under the bill, the Division of Consumer Affairs within the Department of Law and Public Safety will oversee enhanced certification requirements for temporary help service firms. Contracting with uncertified firms will be prohibited for third-party clients. The New Jersey Department of Labor will enforce the new law.
Aggrieved individuals can also assert private causes of action, including class actions. In the case of unlawful retaliation, victims can recover the greater of all legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate or liquidated damages equal to $20,000 per incident of retaliation at the selection of the aggrieved temporary laborer, and reinstatement, if appropriate, plus attorney’s fees and costs.
There is a six-year statute of limitations from the final date of employment by the temporary help service firm or the third party client or upon the passing of six years from the date of termination of the contract between the temporary help service firm and the third party client.
That anti-retaliation provision takes effect on May 7, 2023, along with a notice requirement. Covered companies must comply with the rest of the law starting on August 5, 2023.