California bill would strengthen protections for temp workers

by Laura Clawson

Even some auto manufacturers are increasingly relying on temp—or perma-temp—workers.

Even some auto manufacturers are increasingly relying on temp—or perma-temp—workers.

Temp work is a growing part of the economy, a way companies are cutting labor costs and evading labor laws, causing massive harm to workers in the process. Now, a few states are acting to rein in the worst abuses of the temporary staffing industry. In California, state Assembly committees are considering:

… a bill to make both the labor contractor and its client company, say a hotel owner or a retail goods distribution warehouse, jointly liable for payment of wages, accurate reporting of hours worked, wages, benefits, tax deductions and insurance coverage for victims of on-the-job injuries.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), said he’s concerned about a “race-to-the-bottom mentality that has infiltrated many industries, seeking ways to cut costs, coming many times on the backs of the workers.”

Currently, many large companies contract with a staffing agency to do the dirty work of wage and hour violations, then claim that problems are the staffing agency’s fault—even when the company is clearly responsible for working conditions and for hiring staffing agencies that are routine abusers. Temp workers face higher risk of injury and death on the job, and increasingly, they aren’t really temporary workers. “Temp” is used as a fiction to keep wages and benefits low and workers scared.With the temporary staffing industry having grown 41 percent from 2008 to 2012, there’s a strong need to curb its worst abuses and make it clear to companies that hiring through a staffing agency doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for ensuring that workers are paid according to minimum wage and overtime laws and that their health and safety aren’t put at risk.

Laura Clawson reports on labor issues for Daily Kos, where this post first appeared.

Photo:  chuckoutrearseats/Creative Commons

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