California Temporary Worker Rights, Part 2

In this second entry of our two-part series on the rapid proliferation of temporary workers in California, our Costa Mesa employment lawyers continue to explore some of the vulnerabilities of these employees and the extent of the power they do hold. workergrinding

We’ve been closely following the ProPublica/TIME Magazine series on temporary workers.

While the number of temporary workers throughout the country continues to grow, the number of individuals who will secure full-time employment as a result of these positions is low – about 30 percent. In the meantime, most will earn less than $25,000, some taking in less than half of minimum wage once various fees are factored.

Adjusted for inflation, today’s temporary workers earn about what farm workers of 50 years ago earned.

There is also no denying the racial lines upon which these positions fall. While African-Americans make up about 11 percent of the total work force, they comprise about 20 percent of temporary workers. Latinos too make up about 20 percent of all temporary workers.

In many cases, temp agencies concentrate in towns known to have large numbers of undocumented immigrants for the simple fact that they can exploit their legal vulnerability. They can contract the labor cheaply and if the workers complain, they risk deportation.

ProPublica’s analysis of federal enforcement data revealed that temporary agencies rank consistently among the worst of the big industries in terms of wage and hour violations. A 2005 survey conducted by the U.S. Labor Department found that just 4 percent of temporary agencies have retirement plans or pensions which are extended to employees. Only about 8 percent have some type of health insurance plan. Compare that to 56 percent of full-time workers. What those companies don’t provide, taxpayers do in the form of Social Security, Medicaid, etc.

Even under the new Obamacare law, employers are only required to provide health insurance to those workers who average at least 30 hours weekly. Firms will have up to a year to determine whether workers qualify, which means there is incentive to keep those hours down per employee.

The government also doesn’t keep tabs on the number of injuries of temp workers. However, a recent study of workers’ compensation data compiled from Washington state found that those who worked temporary jobs in manufacturing and construction were twice as likely to be injured as regular staffers in the same industries doing the same types of work.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has been placing this issue on a higher list of priorities, announcing this past spring that they intended to initiate an effort to get better information on the matter.

In California, SB 940, which passed in 2008, defined temporary services employees in New Labor Code section 201.3 and outlined some of their rights. Among those:

  • Barring a listed exception, temporary workers have to be paid weekly and those wages are due on the pay day of the following week.
  • Following a completed assignment, the worker must be paid on the same pay day of the week following the assignment’s completion – not the final day.
  • If a worker is assigned day to day work, pay is due at the end of the day.
  • Temporary services workers replacing workers who are striking must be paid at the end of each work day.
  • Temporary workers who quit or are fired must be paid by their final pay the same way they normally would.
  • If the employee is assigned to a client for more than three months, they are to be considered a longer-term worker.
  • Employers who use temporary agencies are liable to ensure their vendors are complying with all sections of the law.

If you are concerned that the temporary agency by which you are employed may be violating labor laws, contact our offices.

Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with the help of the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed, June 27, 2013, By Michael Grabell, ProPublica

More Blog Entries:

California Unpaid Internships May Warrant Wage Lawsuits, July 3, 2013, Costa Mesa Wage and Hour Lawyer Blog