June 2, 2011
As Albert Einstein very rightly said, “Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.” The anti-staffing bill proposed by the Massachusetts Senate is bound to be categorized under this head along with some of the other bills affecting the staffing industry. Of the 100 plus legislations which were successfully contested and set aside we still remember some, like the sales tax on staffing in Oregon, 1.15% payroll tax on employers in Texas, and even the legislation to regulate day labor in Illinois and New Mexico.
It is as unfortunate as it is untenable, though the legislation appears to be envisaged with the best of motives and intentions. If temporary workers are getting raw deals like being picked up from the streets and getting carted off in trucks to work places without any kind of documentation and ending up with low pay, bad facilities and absolutely no protection, it would be definitely necessary for the legislature to step in and stop such malpractices. However, that does not mean that staffing companies should be branded as culprits and condemned without a hearing.
Staffing companies today competently fulfill a genuine market need and provide professional services structured to benefit both the employers and the workers. They act as de-facto employers for the temporary workers and are bound by various statutory obligations. They are obligated by law to pay payroll taxes (FICA, FUTA) and to provide workers’ compensation insurance, and comply with many other legal obligations (like civil rights, wage and hour, and workplace safety laws).
Any proposed monitoring could be structured in such a way as to control malpractices and unprofessional activities such as described above. It is not fair to bind a whole industry, which generates $ 8B and provides employment to 217,570 in MA alone, in innumerable chains of legislation. This draconian bill is bound to drive up the Industry’s cost of operations while curtailing its revenues with a mandated unfavorable position in the event of any litigation, which is a probability enhanced hundredfold as a direct result of its tenets.
The bill just seems like an answer compiled hastily for an assortment of grievances compiled in a haphazard manner, without any real insight into the actual causes and with no exercise performed to isolate either the cause or the best possible way to solve the issue. It is only fair to bring up in this context the fact that illegal immigrants carrying no documents or social security are easy prey to ill-treatment from unscrupulous employers who exploit them as cheap labor.
However, one can, by no stretch of imagination, blame it on the staffing industry as a whole or declare a war on its very existence! We definitely hope that this bill will go the way of so many earlier ill-considered efforts at legislation and never see the light of day.
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.