Who needs the Massachusetts Staffing Bill? | DCR Workforce Blog

Who needs the Massachusetts Staffing Bill?

It is for good reason that the original staffing bill was toned down to arrive at the version of the bill that has passed into law after many sit down meetings of the lawmakers with representatives of staffing agencies and other activists.

The Stipulations:

The bill requires staffing agencies to disclose the following information to workers and also imposes other restrictions to ensure that the workers get fair pay rates.

  • The worker must know all the relevant details of his/her assignment including location, name of the company, its address and contact information, facilitating staffing agent’s name, details on who carries the workers’ compensation, pay rate being offered and last but not the least, details about the work they will be doing, the training required, special equipment and special clothing, if any.
  • If any costs for transportation, clothing, training, equipment or meals are being passed on to the worker, the information must be made available to the worker prior to the assignment.
  • Information about the hourly pay rate, designated pay date, work schedules, policies on overtime and expected duration of employment must be shared up front with the worker.
  • Staffing firms are not allowed to charge the worker for fees for registration or background check.
  • The workers’ pay rate may not be affected by charging various fees towards such costs, and it cannot be lowered below the prescribed minimum wage.
  • When an agency sends a worker to a client location promising work, and no work is available, the agency must reimburse the worker for any travel or related expenses incurred.
  • The law exempts professionals and administrative assistants from the new rules while covering people working in industrial assembly, packaging and shipping.

The staffing industry – along with unions, activists and lawmakers –  is firmly behind the law, as it is passed with the best of intentions and provides real protection to workers from exploitation and certain unscrupulous practices of some temp agencies – especially when they pick workers up at designated points and transport them to work sites.

The American Staffing Association finds that the revised version of this law is much fairer to staffing firms, although it still questions whether  stronger enforcement of existing laws would have served the same purpose without passing a new bill. While the bill will impose an additional load of paperwork, and a few other changes on staffing firms but none of the requirements will be drastic or debilitating.

Tarred by the Same Brush:

It is a common experience, for people and companies alike, to be considered worthy of the harshest judgment, even when a minuscule number of their group behave in an unacceptable manner. People who blame all staffing agencies for the troubles faced by temporary workers in specific industries and work profiles may want to consider the following facts about the role of staffing agencies:

  • The sluggish economy continues to depress the job market, even when companies have strong business cases to validate an increase in head count they are reluctant to hire because of economic uncertainty.
  • Temp work validates the demand for an increase in head count. Businesses are increasing their flexibility while staying on schedule for project deadlines.
  • Employers are encouraged to outsource their various compliance-related responsibilities to the professionally managed staffing agencies and ensure higher levels of compliance.
  • Companies can save the costs of hiring, payroll administration and fringe benefits costs and avoid the costs associated with making a bad hiring decision.
  • The use of agency contractors helps to fill positions faster, paving the way for a full-time hire by giving the employer assurance that the worker is a good fit.
  • Staffing agencies operate in a highly competitive market, which in itself acts as a deterrent to practices which are exploitative or profiteering in nature.
  • Temp work provides greater work life balance, and is the preferred employment for many workers, for various personal reasons.

A joint survey released in January, 2012 by the American Staffing Association and CareerBuilder indicated that more than a third (35 percent) of American companies are operating with smaller staffs, and turning to staffing and temporary workers. 36% of companies will hire contract or temporary workers in 2012; which is up from 34%t for 2011, 30% for 2010, and 28% for 2009.

Of the companies hiring temporary or contract workers this year, 35 percent have temp-to-hire plans; establishing the indisputable role of temporary work in permanent job creation and economic recovery – which would not have been possible without an active staffing industry.

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.

One response to “Who needs the Massachusetts Staffing Bill?”

  1. A temporary work agency, or temp agency or temporary staffing firm finds and retains workers. Other companies, in need of short-term workers, contract with the temp agency to send temporary workers, or temps, on assignment to work at the other companies. Temporary employees are also used in work that has a cyclical nature that requires frequent adjustment of staffing levels.

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.