Temporary work has many benefits. It lets you sample different industries, pads your CV, and keeps money coming in when you are looking for a permanent position. However, it’s not always so rosy a situation. Too often, companies take advantage of temporary workers. They will try to weasel out of meeting their obligations by misclassifying you as an independent contractor or blame the temp agency you work for when obligations are not met.
The state of California is wise to their maneuvering and has gotten tough on this responsibility two-step. The Assembly passed AB 1897 in 2014, which allows the government to fine companies that flout labor laws when using temporary workers. What is particularly fantastic about this law is that they defined the ‘client employer’ that they will hold liable as ‘a business entity…that obtains or is provided workers to perform labor within its usual course of business from a labor contractor.’ The only exception is if the company is smaller than 25 people, is the state, or hires five or fewer temps. If you are a temporary employee and work somewhere, that somewhere is held liable for respecting your rights by definition. So, what are these rights?
Meal and Wage Laws Apply To You, Too
The ‘client employer’ shares responsibility with the temp agency to meet all the regular meal and wage laws on the books, and there is no mention anywhere of exempting temporary employees from the state’s labor laws. That means that the minimum wage for you is $11 as of January 1, 2018, and is going up a dollar a year until 2023, just as it is for permanent employees. Overtime rules apply to you. You receive the same 10-minute break for every 4 hours worked and half hour lunch break before the 5-hour mark that anyone else does. The only difference is that it is the temp agency that has to cut you the check at regular intervals instead of the ‘client employer.’ And, according to California Assembly AB 1897, the temp agency is prohibited from entering into a labor contract with a client employer if they know or should know that there are not enough funds to comply with the rules involved, so no one gets to claim that there isn’t enough money to pay you what you are owed.
You May Get Paid Sick Leave
Starting July 1, 2015, employers have to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to all employees, even part-time and temporary workers. If you have worked more than 30 days in a year for a particular client employer, you qualify for at least an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The bill requiring this is the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, or SB 3, and it also details how employers are supposed to track the amount of paid sick leave is used. Your employer is allowed to either create a regular accrual system for those hours so long as an employee would get 24 hours of sick leave after working for a company for 120 days, or they can provide a minimum of 24 hours of sick leave for every 120 days at the beginning of the year. They can create any other system, too, so long as they exceed the 24-hour or 3-day requirement.
You Deserve To Be Safe
The only difference between working for one employer and working for 2 employers as far as safety goes is that both entities will be held responsible for keeping the work environment safe. According to the DOSH publication ‘Protecting Temp Agency Employees,’ OSHA requires temp agencies to ‘take reasonable steps to evaluate conditions’ and make sure that you will have the proper training and equipment on the assignment they are sending you to. You are allowed to refuse work that you reasonably believe to be dangerous and be reassigned to another company without penalty, too. The client employer has to provide site-specific instructions on how to do your job safely and have a safety program in place.
Just because you will be working in one place for short periods of time doesn’t mean that you can be treated any differently from a permanent employee. If your temp agency and employer are not respecting your rights or you have questions about your rights, contact Aiman-Smith and Marcy. We are a boutique law firm that specializes in consumer fraud, labor violations, and class-action lawsuits, so we have the expertise to take on your employer.