Temporary workers tend to change positions frequently. Income is earned assignment by assignment. California takes care of its temporary workforce by making it against the law to delay payments for periods that would leave an employee without any money to spare.
Lack of Security Can Cause Pay Worries
Temporary arrangements can leave workers without a pay day before starting a new assignment. The typical permanent employee will not end an employment without a check. If a temporary agency chooses to dole out earnings only after a number of hours are put in, and not after assignments are completed, an employee can go a month or more without a check. Bills can become due and the next date for a deposit is not known.
Pay Schedule Set By Law
The Labor Code has rules for temporary staffing agencies. Since January 1, 2009, when the Senate’s SB 940 became effective, payments have been on a weekly schedule, or for day to day assignments, daily. Senator Leland Yee, an advocate for policies that make it easier for working families to pay the bills, proposed the change to the code to set schedules organizations such as American Staffing Association and California Staffing Association find reasonable. Weekly and occasional daily payments have long been common.
If the agency fails to pay, they have to compensate the employee for the time they go without earned income. Agencies continue to pay wages at the same rate and also continue fringe benefits. The legal penalties can add up for as long as 30 days.
Payment Assured Without Excessive Demands On Agencies
Californians can expect regular payment of the income earned on assignments without turning to the agency at the end of every short assignment. One of the main motivations for making the law the one it is today was a state of uncertainty among temporary providers on how often they had to spend to keep employee accounts current. In the 2006 case of Smith v. L’Oreal, the court interpreted the labor code to require payment to a hair model at the end of the assignment as if it the end was a “discharge.”
It was not known whether staffing agencies would have to meet the same requirements. Payroll spending that frequent, at the ends of assignments of a day, days or weeks, would involve a large number of transactions and a lot of staff time. The demands were unreasonable, but the penalties would add up. Yee’s law ended the uncertainty.
Injured Workers Also Secure
Liability for workers’ compensation payments is divided between the agency and the clients. An employee injured during work on a temporary assignment can ask for payments from both to cover the lost earnings and medical costs. CalChamber opposed Yee’s law because of this dual liability. They claimed the state lost the traditional advantage of the workers’ compensation insurance system that the compensation can be the workers only remedy, with civil lawsuits ruled out.
The basic situation that makes a double remedy possible, however, existed before the law for temporaries. In California, when an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, an employee can sue in civil court. The situation CalChamber describes is where the client does not have workers compensation insurance and the staffing agency does. A temporary can receive compensation from the agency and sue the client they did work for in civil court.
Planned payment gives temporary workers the same security that permanent employees enjoy. Even when an employee chooses to work seven assignments in one month, the money comes in on the same schedule. This way, frequent assignments only build up income.
California Labor Code
SB 940 (2008)