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Massachusetts Provides Protection for Temporary Workers

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill into law that addresses the rights of temporary workers. Known as the “Right to Know” law, it requires temporary staffing or employment agencies to make disclosures about labor laws, workers’ compensation and other information.

“Thousands of Massachusetts workers are sent off to work by staffing agencies without any idea of where they are going, what work they will do, and what they will be paid,” Patrick said. “This bill levels the playing field for all of our businesses while fulfilling our responsibility to make sure all of our workers are being treated fairly.”

Staffing agencies, or temporary agencies, send people to work on a short-term basis. Some assignments may be for an extended period of time while others are only for the day. Workers are paid by the agency which, in turn, charges the company that requested the temporary workers.

Workers Often Unaware of Rights

Often, workers are sent to jobs that turn out not to exist, or they are sent home after just a few hours. In addition, workers are sometimes not clear on how much they will be making per hour or the precise requirements of the job. The new law requires staffing agencies and temporary employment agencies to make all of these things clear to employees in writing before an employee accepts an assignment. In addition, agencies can no longer charge registration fees, fees for conducting background checks, or any other fee that would reduce a worker’s pay below the state minimum wage.

While these requirements may not sound new, they are new to temporary employment. Massachusetts employers have long been required to post labor laws and workers’ compensation benefit information; however, those laws did not apply to the temporary staffing agencies, which were virtually unregulated prior to the new requirements.

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation and Temporary Workers

Workers who work for temporary employment agencies, often referred to as “day laborers,” often think they have no benefits.  While an employer does not need to offer benefits such as medical insurance or paid sick days to a temporary employee, almost all employees are covered under workers’ compensation laws, including temporary workers.

If a worker is injured on the job in Massachusetts, he or she may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits irrespective of his or her status as a temporary worker. While this has been the law for some time in Massachusetts, many workers did not realize it and temporary agencies were often not inclined to mention it. The new law simply requires employers to post what has always been the law, so that workers will know what benefits they may receive if they are injured on the job.

If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts and feel that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, contact the Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C.  We can help with filing a claim or appealing a denial. Call us at 800-367-0871 or use our online contact form for a free case evaluation.