Massachusetts Enacts Law Regarding Temporary Employees

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

By Jennifer Duke

On August 6, 2012, Massachusetts enacted the “Temporary Workers’ Right to Know Act,” which imposes new requirements on staffing agencies.  The Act, which takes effect on January 31, 2013, requires staffing agencies to provide temporary employees with notice regarding the details of their work assignments.  It also imposes limitations on fees that may be charged to temporary employees.  Failure to abide by the law (Mass. Gen. L. c. 149, § 159C) may result in harsh civil fines or criminal sanctions. 

Staffing agencies will now be required to provide temporary workers with specific information about each new assignment, including:

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the staffing agency or the agent facilitating the placement;
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the work site employer and the department;
  • A description of the position, including whether it requires any special clothing, equipment, training, or licenses (and whether the employee will be charged for the costs of the supplies or training);
  • The designated pay day, the hourly rate of pay, and whether overtime pay may occur;
  • The daily starting time and anticipated end time;
  • The expected duration of employment (when known);
  • Whether any meals will be provided by the staffing agency or work site employer (and whether the employee will be charged for the meal); and
  • Details of the means of transportation to the worksite (and any fees charged to the employee for transportation services).

Staffing agencies may convey this information to the employee by telephone initially, but these terms must be confirmed in writing and sent to the employee before the end of the first pay period.  If any of the initial terms of the assignment change, the staffing agency must notify the employee in writing, and the employee must acknowledge the change.  These requirements do not apply to “professional” employees (as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act) or to secretaries or administrative assistants. 

The Act also requires staffing agencies to post general information about the law (and translations, if appropriate) in a conspicuous place in each location.  The Massachusetts Department of Labor has been directed to create a sample poster.

Finally, the Act limits what fees can be imposed upon temporary workers.  No staffing agency or work site employer may deduct any costs or fees from an employee’s wages without his or her express written authorization.  Fees for registering with staffing agencies or for the cost of procuring employment are prohibited.  Staffing agencies are also prohibited from charging fees exceeding the actual cost incurred for criminal record offender information requests, drug screens, transportation services, or forms of payment such as debit cards or money orders.