New bill seeks to protect temporary workers in California

Landmark legislation puts California at forefront of legal protections for temporary workers

This September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1897, which addresses employment law violations for temporary workers.

Companies in California and across the nation have increasingly relied on contract and temporary workers to fill labor needs. According to American Staffing Association, over 3 million workers were employed as temporary or contract workers in the second quarter of 2014. That is over a 5 percent increase from last year, and the trend shows no sign of an immediate slowdown.

According to a study by ProPublica, contract workers are 50 percent more likely to become injured on the job than regular employees. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some temporary workers must pay for their own safety equipment, work off the clock, are undertrained for dangerous work and fulfill the needs of full-time employment but do not receive the benefits because they officially work for a contract agency.

That has led to claims that some contract workers do not even make minimum wage, which in California is now $9.00 per hour, the third-highest in the nation.

Where legal culpability resides was previously uncertain

Workers who have experienced wage and labor violations have legal recourse in the form of a civil lawsuit. Previously, however, one of the biggest hurdles for contract employees to sue was which company was responsible for the pay and safety of temporary workers. Companies who hired out work to contract agencies claimed the responsibility was on the temporary agencies; contract agencies said the hiring company or subcontractor was responsible.

Under the new bill, the law will now require the client employer to be responsible for paying minimum wages to workers. It also prevents the client employer from shifting legal responsibility to a subcontractor.

Experienced employment law attorneys can help

California has increased its focus on the legal protections of temporary workers in recent years. From ensuring such workers receive minimum wage to enforcing employment law violations, numerous California state agencies have the ability to issue severe fines on violators. In addition, temporary workers are now more easily able to file a lawsuit for employment law violations against both temporary agencies and employers who use them.

For questions on compliance with state and federal regulations, or to discuss potential workplace violations, contact the experienced employment and business law attorneys at WHGC. From preventative planning to litigation defense, the knowledgeable attorneys at WHGC can help an employer comply with state and federal law and avoid costly litigation.

Keywords: Temporary workers, employment law, workers' rights.