February 09, 2023

Gov. Phil Murphy Signs the New Jersey Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights

Despite strong opposition from New Jersey business groups, on February 6, 2023, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights into law (A1474/S511). This new law places significant burdens upon “temporary help service firms” and their clients. The law requires that temporary workers be paid “not less than the same average rate of pay and equivalent benefits as a permanent employee of a third-party client performing the same or substantially similar work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort or responsibility, which are performed under the same working conditions.” This “equal-pay-equal-benefit” provision, besides potentially increasing costs, will prove challenging for employers to calculate the cost of equivalent benefits. 

This law applies to all “temporary help service firms” which are defined as any business which employs individuals, directly or indirectly, to assist customers in the handling of the customer’s temporary, excess or special workloads. Temporary help service firms, sometimes referred to as day labor firms, are required to register with the attorney general under N.J.S.A. 56:8-1.1. The law does not apply to most “employment agencies” who obtain a license and are subject to the regulatory requirements of N.J.S.A. 34:8-48. AIT Global v. Yadav, 445 N.J. Super. 513 (App. Div. 2016). However, the law gives Director of the Consumer Affairs Division the authority to subject an employment agency to “whatever requirements of the Act [he] deems appropriate.”

Any agency that violates this section is subject to penalties between $500 - $1,000 for each violation. The governor set aside $1 million as part of his conditional veto, in order to fund the Department of Labor’s enforcement capabilities. The law provides for a private right of action against both the staffing agency and the third-party client.

The Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights imposes additional recordkeeping and notice requirements, including an informational notice approved by the Commissioner to be provided to the employee that includes, among other things, the name of the agency’s workers’ compensation carrier, the name and nature of the work to be performed, the wages offered, the length of the assignment and any available paid sick leave, among other requirements. The agency must also provide the worker 48 hours advance notice whenever possible, in the event of a change in the worker’s schedule, shift or location.

The temporary help service firm must also keep records regarding the temporary worker and his or her assignments. The recordkeeping requirements include the race, ethnicity and gender of each temporary laborer or applicant as provided by that laborer. The agency is required to keep such records for six years and make them available to the Department of Labor upon five days’ notice. The law requires that these agencies provide an itemized statement on the worker’s pay stubs that includes several forms of information. 

The Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights law is part of the ever-expanding state and federal workplace legislation efforts. Clients who utilize temporary labor, such as fulfillment centers and construction businesses, should determine whether they are receiving temporary labor from a covered temporary help service firm as compared to a non-covered employment agency. 

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