CWS 3.0: July 13, 2011 - Vol. 3.16


Legal Eagle: State Proposes Strict Measures for Staffing Firms

Working its way through the Massachusetts legislature is a bill that would create sweeping new administrative and financial requirements for staffing firms and may in turn raise costs for companies that use contingent workers in the state.

The bill, HB 1393, could prohibit temp-to-perm conversion fees for nonprofessional workers as well as some professional workers such as nurses and physicians, according to the American Staffing Association. Further the bill could impose potential rate caps, and also could make staffing firms responsible for meals and lodging in certain instances, require workers to receive job details in writing and could require out-of-state staffing firms doing business in Massachusetts to set up an office in that state.

“It would have significant impact on [the staffing] industry,” said Stephen Dwyer, general counsel at the American Staffing Association, which opposes the bill. “We have seen no law as sweeping and as broad as this one in Massachusetts.”

The written notifications required of staffing firms under the bill would be difficult for them to provide and the vast majority of information that would be required is already provided to workers on an oral basis, Dwyer said. With an estimated daily average of 40,000 temporary workers in the state, the industry “business model is such that providing that written notice would be administratively unfeasible.”

Companies that use contingent labor should keep a close eye on this bill’s progress. While the staffing industry is the target of the bill, companies that use contingent workers will feel the effects of any added administrative costs as a result of this legislation.

Dwyer said it’s difficult to say whether other states could use the Massachusetts bill as a model if it receives approval. However, it’s something all staffing firms should be concerned about, he said.

Proponents of the bill, according to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, argue it will streamline regulations for the industry and protect temporary workers.

Members of the REAL (Reform Employment Agency Law) Coalition in favor of the bill including the Mass AFL-CIO, Greater Boston Labor Council, Mass Employment Lawyers Association and others.


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