New Jersey gives temps sweeping protections

The “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” aims to provide pay equity and to allow for getting full-time jobs at client firms of staffing agencies.
FILE – New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his budget address in Trenton, N.J., on March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Monday signed a bill known as the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights,” making his state potentially the first to grant a slew of employment rights and protections to temporary workers employed by staffing agencies.

“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,” Murphy said in a statement.

Among other provisions, the new law will ensure temporary workers aren’t paid less than equivalent permanent employees, ban staffing agencies from preventing temp workers from accepting jobs at client firms, and ban staffing agencies and client firms from charging fees to transport temporary workers to job sites.

Murphy vetoed an earlier version of the bill in September. The new legislation incorporated his requested changes, according to NJ Advance Media.

Business groups opposed the bill, arguing that it would drive up the cost of operating a staffing agency in the state. They zeroed in on the provision that would allow temporary workers to earn the same as permanent employees.

“Some temporary workers will be making more than permanent employees whose wages are determined by seniority and experience,” Alexis Bailey, vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said in a statement earlier this month.

“There are also many logistical burdens to consider as temp agencies contract with multiple businesses that offer different benefits packages,” she said. “All of this will serve to make it extremely difficult to provide jobs for temporary workers.”

The bill was supported by union leaders and advocates for worker’s rights.

“Elevating the employment standards of temporary workers will reform the temporary staffing industry and address unscrupulous business practices like wage theft, pay discrimination, and unsafe working conditions that hurt all workers,” New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said in a statement released by Murphy’s office.