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Use of 'perma-temp' employees may become unlawful

The practice of employers using temporary employees is nothing new. However, more employers are using so-called “perma-temp” employees (i.e. long-term temporary employees) in an effort to cut costs. While this has caused concern among labor unions and employee advocates, employers are finding that these workers are helping them through rough economic times.

However, the news may not be so rosy for employees. In fact, the wide-spread use of perma-temp employees is being compared to modern day sweat shop working conditions. In a recent LA Times article, a housekeeper was highlighted who worked at a Santa Monica hotel. As a perma-temp worker, she was paid well below the amount other employees were paid for doing the same work. She was also not eligible for health insurance benefits or paid time-off. She complained that she would often have to work off the clock in order to finish the number of suites she was assigned to clean.

The California Labor Federation apparently believes that more situations exist like this one. They explain that unscrupulous contractors take advantage of loopholes in the law that ostensibly allow them to overlook laws governing pay, overtime and unemployment compensation.

These situations have led to legislation that could eventually close such loopholes and protect workers from being exploited by temporary staffing agencies and companies alike.  In the meantime, exploited workers could actually have legal claims against employers who break the law. It may be difficult for employees in these situations to seek out their legal options out of fear of retaliation, but it may be worth doing so to maintain an honest and safe working environment. 

Source: LA “Rising use of ‘perma-temp’ workers is stirring up a legislative fight,” Marc Lifsher, May 7, 2014

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