Massachusetts Anti-staffing Bill | DCR Workforce Blog

Massachusetts Anti-staffing Bill

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.

Both employers and workers today benefit from the competently fulfilled services of staffing companies, which fill a genuine market need in a professional and structured manner. Staffing companies take upon themselves various statutory obligations to act as de-facto employers for the temporary workers. The contingent workforce solutions provided by them to their clients 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.

3 responses to “Massachusetts Anti-staffing Bill”

  1. Disgruntled Temp says:

    I am behind this bill 100%.  I have been temped to debt, and truly believe this bill is in the employees’ best interest.  If the bill becomes instrumental in subordinating or snuffing out the staffing industry in Mass., the more power to it.  Staffing/temp firms are growth-oriented and parasitic at the employees’ expense.  Believe me, most employees would rather be hired directly by the place they’re actually working at.  Temps should be unionized and hired through hiring halls.  I have worked in this arrangement in the past.  I made $30/hr through the union while agency-hired coworkers made $15/hr.  The union took 2% of my pay for dues vs. the staffing/temp agencies’ 30%+ cut.  A manager assured me the company paid the same amount for the unionized vs. staffing agency workers.
    Employees of staffing firms with a buy-out fee are vulnerable to being passed over as direct-hire employees for candidates with no fees to buy out.   Like most employees, I had to resort to staffing/temp agencies because these agencies “own” so many jobs.  I had so many horrible experiences with temp agencies.  You guys seem great at convincing companies that the contract-to-perm or contract situation is a win-win arrangement.  Well, the contracted employees loose.
    As a temp, I have always looked for direct-hire work while temping.  One time I accepted a direct-hire position and the temp agency I was working through told me that I “couldn’t” leave them.  I just told this agency that I had training and a benefits package waiting for me.  So many agency jobs have ended abruptly for me, but when you decide to leave an agency position, they balk.  I can go on and on about my very negative experiences with working with agencies.  The industry needs to be investigated and regulated; they are growth-oriented and parasitic at the employees’ expense.

  2. People take on temporary work assignments for many reasons. For some, like you, a temporary assignment provides income while you seek a permanent position. For many others, it is a lifestyle choice. As a freelancer, you can choose to be an independent contractor, or you can work through an agency. As an independent contractor, you are required to carry special insurance, pay all payroll taxes at a higher rate than as an employee of a staffing agency, and secure your own healthcare benefits. These services are provided by staffing agencies, and much of the mark-up you describe is used to cover these administrative costs. Remember – it is in the staffing agency’s best interest to offer you the highest pay rate in order to easily and rapidly fill a position, while it is in the company’s interest to pay the lowest possible rate. In this sense, the agency is acting as your agent.

    In this period of high unemployment, many companies are unprepared to commit to increasing the size of their permanent staff, but will bring on workers ONLY if they have the assurance that they are protected from co-employment, employee misclassification, and other government regulations. Only staffing agencies can simultaneously provide this protection to companies and workers. Staffing agencies are creating opportunities for people who may otherwise be unemployed. The intent of the bill may be to improve the working conditions of persons who might be exploited in various ways – but it would end up imposing draconian conditions on the whole industry. Before supporting any new legislation, one should always ask, “What problem is this solving and who will benefit?”

    • TINA CROCCO says:

      well if this is true i should of have been overed an assistant that can comunicate with special needs workers to understand what should be carried out. Verbal with contract works the best. I believe thats called a normal buisness meeting so one could carry out the assignment with the deadline. Misson accomplished. Assentives are great way to award one that follows through:)

Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.