The Massachusetts Staffing Association directs significant resources to legislative advocacy on behalf of the staffing industry in Massachusetts and its member firms, their clients, and their internal and temporary workers, including the retention of lobbyists that work continuously to represent these interests with key officials and the Massachusetts Legislature.
Over the past several years this legislative work has resulted in significant savings and reduced legal and operations burdens for staffing agencies. The following are but some of MSA’s successes:
Healthcare Assessments (e.g. EMAC)
- MSA advocated on the EMAC Assessment which imposes a tax on employers for 2018 and 2019 and was intended to close a budget shortfall in the state’s MassHealth program. This tax is offset, in full or in part, by a reduction in unemployment insurance rates. The goal of this advocacy was to ensure that staffing agencies pay a fair share EMAC Assessment and not a disproportionate EMAC Assessment resulting from the short tenure of their temporary workforce.
- MSA’s advocacy resulted in relief for high turnover staffing agencies or staffing agencies suffering a financial hardship as a direct result of their EMAC Assessment.
- For the prior Fair Share Assessment that was repealed as part of the Affordable Care Act, supported efforts to allow employers, when calculating the fair share health care assessment, to eliminate those employees who have qualifying health insurance coverage from a spouse, a parent, a veteran’s plan, Medicare, Medicaid, or a plan or plans due to a disability or retirement, for purposes of determining an employer’s fair share assessme Also, supported legislation to establish an orderly appeals process in connection with fair share audits; impose deadlines for appeal rulings; allow the DUA to account for employers’ good faith efforts to comply with the law when making audit determinations; no longer allow penalties and interest to accrue during the pendency of an employer’s audit appeal; and prohibit the DUA from removing funds from an employer’s account during the pendency of an appeal.
- MSA defeated proposed predictive scheduling legislation in Boston. The Boston Fair Workweek Employment Standards for City Contractors Ordinance would have required staffing firm temporary workers assigned to city departments or agencies to be provided with written good faith estimates of work schedules upon hire; written notice of the actual schedule on or before commencement of employment; 14 days’ advanced notice of any new schedule; and advanced notice of any changes to the work schedule. The ordinance also would have required city departments and agencies to offer additional hours of work to existing qualified employees before hiring temporary employees through staffing firms. MSA represented the staffing industry at public hearings and in meetings with Boston City Councilors and submitted written comments to the Boston City Council.
- MSA will advocate on this issue at the state level in the next legislative session. Legislation was recently introduced that would require workers be provided with advance written notice of their work schedules as well as predictability pay if their work hours or shifts are changed or canceled. MSA representatives have held meetings with key officials and submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development requesting an exclusion of temporary workers from the proposed legislation.
- MSA is currently advocating on this issue which is expected to result in enacted legislation in 2019 intended to prevent wage theft and promote employer accountability by businesses when using contracted and subcontracted labor. This advocacy includes meetings with key officials and submitting written comments to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. MSA is seeking consideration for staffing firms that comply with the Temporary Worker Right to Know Law and Regulations and a thirty day cure period prior to the filing of a claim by an alleged aggrieved worker.
- MSA is closely monitoring this issue which seeks to restrict an employer’s ability to recover wage overpayments to employees.
- MSA is closely monitoring this issue which seeks to restrict a potential employer’s access to the criminal background and credit reports of job applicants. MSA has submitted written comments to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means seeking clarification that employers can continue to use our industry to perform these checks.
Temporary Worker Right to Know Law
- Successfully opposed Temporary Worker Right-to-Know bills that would have:
- Imposed rate caps on staffing firm bill rate
- Required staffing firms to provide right-to-know notices, for every assignment, to professional and administrative employee
- Required staffing firms to disclose bill rates to temporary employe
- Prohibited staffing firms from charging clients fees for placing certain candidates in permanent jobs, thus wiping out a large part of the search and placement sector of the staffing industr
- Prohibited staffing firms from charging clients conversion fe
- Prohibited staffing firms from sending candidate resumes to clients for purposes of generating client interest and job order
- Required staffing firms to provide meals, lodging, and transportation expenses to out-of-state workers whose temporary assignments are cancele
- Required in-state office
- Automatically awarded an aggrieved worker, who was successful in a legal action, treble damages, the costs of litigation, and attorneys’ fees – no matter how trivial the violation and no matter if a staffing firm’s violation was inadvertent and the firm engaged in no fraud or malice.
- Represented the staffing industry at public hearings and in meetings with key officials and submitted written comments to the Director of the Department of Labor Standards on the proposed Employment Agency and Temporary Workers Right to Know Regulations during the promulgation process. Continued to advocate for changes to confusing and onerous provisions of these Regulations resulting in significant relief from the job order change notification requirement and clarification of the definitions of the agency types and professional exemption.
- Continue to communicate with the Department of Labor Standards and the Fair Labor Division of the Attorney General’s Office regarding their activities to ensure that staffing agencies are in compliance with the Temporary Worker Right to Know Law and Regulations.
Earned Sick Time
- Represented the staffing industry at public hearings and in meetings with key officials and submitted written comments to the Massachusetts Attorney General on the Earned Sick Time Regulations. This work contributed to the more than 200 changes from the draft regulations to the final regulations, which included the majority of concerns raised by MSA member firms.
Unemployment Insurance and Voluntary Quit
- This matter is raised each legislative session, and MSA has successfully opposed these repeated efforts to repeal the requirement that, as a condition of receiving unemployment insurance benefits, temporary workers first notify their staffing firm prior to filing a claim for an unemployment benefit.
- Submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and to the House Committee on Ways and Means on proposed legislation to establish pay equity. MSA’s comments contributed to provisions in the final legislation to (i) clarify that employers cannot discriminate, based on gender, with respect to the payment of wages to their own employees; (ii) specify bona fide reasons for pay differentials and clarify that the enumerated bona fide reasons for pay differentials are illustrative, rather than exclusive; and (iii) remove a provision requiring the disclosure of pay rates in job advertisements.
- MSA closely monitored the promulgation of regulations and FAQ guidance for provisions that expand the reach of the enacted legislation and that create an unreasonable burden on or are in conflict with the staffing model.
- Prevented the Cambridge City Council from introducing an ordinance that would have prohibited certain hotels from using temporary and contract labor supplied by staffing firms.
- Opposed a requirement that staffing firms placing electricians and plumbers become licensed electrical and plumbing contractor As a result of MSA’s and staffing firms’ efforts, reached agreement with regulatory agencies such that staffing firms would become licensed, but not have to fulfill all requirements applicable to true electrical and plumbing contractors.
- Engaged in advocacy that resulted in MA computer services sales and use tax being deemed inapplicable to technical and IT staffing.
This summary is illustrative of MSA’s advocacy work, and there are other issues for which MSA advocated and which are being closely monitored for further action, including Paid Family and Medical Leave.
During this time, MSA and its members have also worked with our lobbying firm, Murphy Donoghue Partners, to sponsor and attend fundraisers for key members of the legislature. These efforts have helped build strong relationships with crucial legislators and solidify MSA as an important political player in the Commonwealth.