New Jersey made history by becoming the first state in the US to enact a law that guarantees equal pay for temporary workers. The law, known as the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights, went into effect on August 5, 2023, and aims to protect the rights and dignity of more than 130,000 temporary workers in the state. This law expands on the rights of temporary workers granted in an earlier law passed in May.
In effect, the legislation applies to workers placed on a temporary assignment by a staffing agency to perform work in certain occupational categories such as food preparation, production, construction, transportation, and security. The law, in part, requires that temporary workers receive the same pay as permanent employees of a third-party client who perform the same or substantially similar work.
The law goes on to stipulate that itemized pay statements must be provided to include the company worked for, number of hours worked for each client, pay rate, total earnings, and deductions.
It prohibits any wage deductions for transportation to the worksite, background checks, and cashing paychecks. Also, workers are entitled to half-day pay for any jobs that are cancelled on arrival.
The law also established joint and severe liability for staffing agencies and third-party clients for any violations of the law and allows workers to file individual or class-action lawsuits against them. Furthermore, it prohibits retaliation against workers who exercise their rights under the law or who report any known violation.
The law echoes the decades-long fight for pay equity by women in various industries, such as entertainment, where female stars have often been paid less than their male counterparts. One of the most famous cases was that of Suzanne Somers, who was fired from the hit sitcom Three’s Company in 1980 after asking for a raise to match the salary of her co-star John Ritter – a difference of the $30,000 per episode Somers made to the $150,000 per episode Ritter was paid. Somers is often quoted as saying that her battle for equal pay was “humiliating”. However, she also noted that she was proud of being a pioneer for women’s rights.
New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy said the law was a “major upgrade of legal protections” for temporary workers who often face exploitation and discrimination in the workplace. It was inspired by the groundbreaking employment legislation for contract worker rights in Illinois.
The Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights is a momentous achievement for New Jersey and a model for other states to follow.
- We anticipate seeing more of this type of legislation roll out across the country as other states follow suit.
- By ensuring fair compensation and equal treatment for temporary workers, the law not only benefits the workers, but also contributes to economic growth and social justice.
- nextSource actively protects against discrimination and strives for parity for all workers’ pay, regardless of specific characteristics such as race, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or worker status using information from anonymized data to develop market rates and encourages others to do the same. Even if your state has not enacted this type of legislation, companies can create similar values and tie this to your brand to drive parity.