Protections for Temporary Workers Sorely Lacking in U.S.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
(graphic: NUPGE)

Being a temporary worker in the United States can mean working at the same job indefinitely without ever becoming permanent, getting cheated out of wages, and facing a higher risk of injury.


Compared with other developed nations, the U.S. provides few legal protections for temps, who increasingly make up a larger percentage of the workforce since the Great Recession as companies strive to reduce labor costs.


U.S. law does not require employers to hire temps after a certain period of time on the job. That stands in contrast to many other nations that limit how long a temp can stay without being hired: South Korea (two years), Japan and Italy (three years), Czech Republic (one year), and Brazil (three months).


Some countries, like Germany, guarantee temps the same wages and working conditions as company employees.


American temps enjoy no such guarantees under the law.


And Congress has shown no interest over the past 40 years, regardless of which party was in charge, of adopting or even hearing proposals to better protect the temp workforce, even though their ranks have swelled to 2.7 million workers.


“In fact, the last time a bill to protect private-sector temp workers got a hearing in Congress was in 1971,” Michael Grabell wrote for ProPublica.


Rep. George Miller (D-California), the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, calls the dearth of basic protections for temporary workers in the U.S. “shameful.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections (by Michael Grabell, ProPublica)

Employment Policies and Data: OECD Indicators of Employment Protection (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed (by Michael Grabell, ProPublica)

Blue Collar Temp Workers more Likely to be Injured (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

The Precarious Life of Temp Workers (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Companies Increasingly Use Temporary Workers to Avoid Safety Regulations (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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