Senate sends temp worker rights bill to governor’s desk after do-over vote
The Senate met for a rare mid-summer session in part to hold a do-over vote on the bill, correcting a procedural error made when the bill was first approved in June. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)
During a rare midsummer legislative session Monday afternoon, the state Senate advanced a bill — for the second time this summer — that would give temporary workers certain protections.
The measure (A1474) required a do-over vote because, during a marathon voting session in June, the Senate version of the bill was not properly substituted by the Assembly version that will be sent to Gov. Phil Murphy for his signature.
Sen. Joe Cryan (D-Union), prime sponsor of the bill, said it would protect workers “abused” by the temporary staffing industry, including “perma-temps,” temporary workers who are repeatedly employed by the same company but are not required to be given any benefits or equal compensation.
Immigrant groups and labor advocates, who had celebrated the bill’s passage in June after years of fighting for more protections for temporary workers, were worried that the midsummer session and potential COVID-19 cases among lawmakers would hurt the chances of the bill passing again.
But the measure passed 21 to 15 and now heads to Murphy’s desk.
Sens. Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) and Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) peppered Cryan with questions and criticism. Oroho said he worries the bill would kill the state’s staffing industry by having a “third party” be responsible for temp workers.
About 127,000 workers are employed by temporary staffing agencies statewide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Temp agencies are often found in densely populated immigrant communities and rely heavily on immigrants as cheap labor for warehouses, factories, and other work sites, Cryan said.
The bill, known as the temp workers bill of rights, would require staffing agencies to inform workers of where they will work, their compensation, and the name of the employer.
It would require staffing agencies to pay temporary workers no less than their permanent counterparts. And temporary workers sent home from a worksite without work would be compensated for showing up.
The legislation would also ban certain pay deductions, like fees for transportation and check cashing, and would put in place new restrictions for how temp workers are transported to worksites. Staffing agencies would also be required to hold onto records of all hires for at least six years, to help prevent wage theft and discrimination.
The New Jersey Staffing Alliance and New Jersey Business and Industry Association both opposed the bill, calling the legislation’s requirements burdensome and warning it would discourage companies from employing temporary workers.
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