What is the Illinois Workday and Services Act?
This is Illinois law with new amendments that went into effect in August of this year. The changes give temporary workers new, equal rights in terms of remuneration with employers who hire temporary workers from employment agencies that employ the workers. The changes also impose new obligations on such employers and agencies to provide additional safety notices and training.
Illinois is following a trend seen in other states that are strengthening the rights of temporary workers.
Temporary workers assigned to a client for longer than 90 days must receive at least the same rate of pay and equivalent benefits as the lowest paid comparator. This means the same rate of pay as a directly employed employee performing the same or substantially similar work under similar conditions and with the same length of service. If there is no comparable employee, the temporary agency worker receives at least the rate of pay and equivalent benefits of the lowest paid directly employed employee.
Instead of providing the benefits themselves, temporary service agencies may pay an hourly amount of money that matches the cost of company benefits. Customers of a service agency are required to provide employment agencies with all necessary information related to the job duties, compensation and benefits of directly employed employees to ensure compliance with the Act.
Before a staffing agency can assign a temporary worker, it must learn about the client company’s occupational health and safety practices and hazards in the workplace to which the temporary worker will be assigned in order to be able to assess the safety conditions, the workers’ tasks and the client company’s safety program. . In addition, employment agencies are required to provide general workplace safety training before assigning temporary workers to work sites. The training must include information on how to report workplace safety concerns and provide a hotline number to report safety concerns to the Illinois Department of Labor.
And how are employment agencies supposed to know these threats? Because client companies must continually inform employment agencies of any anticipated occupational hazards; Review staffing agency security training to ensure it addresses threats in client companies’ industries; develop and provide specialized training for client companies’ industries; and monitor training to ensure it is delivered on time.
Staffing agencies are now also required to inform temporary workers in writing at or before work assignment of any strikes, lockouts or other labor problems occurring in the workplace. These notices must be written in a language the employee understands (i.e. cut through legal cheese) and must inform temporary workers that they have the right to refuse the assignment and be given another assignment.
Enforcement of this act was accomplished solely by complainants through the Illinois Department of Labor. Now any interested party can file a lawsuit. A stakeholder is any organization that monitors or brings attention to compliance with public or employee safety laws, wage and hour requirements, or other statutory requirements. If they win, they will receive 10 percent of any statutory penalties assessed, plus expenses and attorneys’ fees.
So that’s it. A new, permanent law to help temporary workers.
Some staffing agencies and client companies may see this as a constant, new headache that no amount of aspirin can temporarily alleviate.
Brett Kepley is an attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc. Questions should be directed to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820.
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