A Win for New Jersey Temp Workers

Tens of thousands of New Jersey temporary help and staffing agency workers were essential but unprotected during the pandemic but will soon enjoy robust new rights and protections.

They triumphed over significant challenges, building power with support from Make the Road NJ and New Labor, to pass the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” on February 2, 2023.

After a version of the bill passed both chambers in June 2022, a clerical error caused a series of delays, spurring intensified lobbying by the industry. The workers persevered, returning to Trenton repeatedly to make their voices heard, highlighting poverty wages and how taxpayers subsidize temp agencies by more than $20 million per year, and calling out agencies opposing the bill that were not even registered to operate in New Jersey.

As Reynalda Cruz, a New Labor leader and former temp worker, explained: the new law “has been a long time coming for us, after having passed the Assembly and Senate twice previously.”

“Temp workers need more protections and temp agencies need to be regulated! We’ve seen it through multiple votes, and when we fight we win!”

Nidia Rodrigues, a temp worker and member of Make the Road NJ echoed the excitement: “Finally, essential temp workers have the opportunity for just and dignified jobs, and a better future. This is a victory led by and for the hundreds of thousands of essential temp workers who have organized for years.”

Reflecting key worker priorities, the New Jersey law contains several provisions for transforming low-wage, precarious jobs into good jobs.

Workers assigned to designated occupations by temporary help and staffing agencies will enjoy equal pay for equal work, opportunities for permanent employment, transparency, and more.

Most of the provisions of this terrific victory will take effect on August 5, 2023, but the critical protections against retaliation and the Right-to-Know provisions take effect on May 7, 2023.

For the scores of temp workers routinely assigned to the covered occupations, passage of the law is only the beginning. Workers look forward to the improved conditions that implementation will bring and, ultimately, to ensuring all temp workers, regardless of assignment or state of residence, enjoy the same basic protections.

This is an abbreviated version of a blog that originally appeared at NELP on May 1, 2023. Republished with permission.

About the Author: This blog was published by NELP (National Employment Law Project) staff.

Learn more about temporary workers here.

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