In a significant move toward safeguarding the rights and safety of temporary workers, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 2862 into law on August 4, 2023. The amendments, effective immediately, introduce substantial changes to the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act. The primary focus of these amendments is twofold: bolstering equal pay rights and establishing comprehensive safety and training requirements.
The Equal Pay for Equal Work provisions, a cornerstone of the amended act, underline Illinois' commitment to wage transparency and the distinction between workers as employees, rather than contractors. The responsibilities bestowed upon temporary agencies and third-party clients using temporary laborers are substantial. These include ensuring that temporary laborers, who are assigned to work at a third-party client for more than 90 calendar days, receive pay and benefits equal to the lowest paid directly hired employees of the client. In cases where comparators are absent, temporary laborers must still be compensated in line with the lowest-paid directly hired employee.
However, despite the clear intent of the amendments, several vital questions remain unanswered. One such question revolves around the start day for calculating the 90-day period. Without explicit guidance, conservative interpretations could lead to immediate violations and retroactive consequences. Similarly, the inclusion of non-working days within the "more than 90 calendar days" calculation and whether consecutive days are necessary for meeting this requirement are yet to be definitively addressed.
The amendments also bring forth stringent safety and training requirements. Temp agencies initiating new contracts must delve into client companies' safety practices, hazards, and training programs. Temporary laborers should receive general safety training for recognized industry hazards at the worksite and information on reporting safety concerns. Client companies, in turn, must identify anticipated job hazards and provide tailored training to temporary laborers, ensuring that they're adequately prepared to navigate potential risks.
Additionally, the amendments empower temporary laborers to refuse assignments during labor disputes without facing prejudice. While designed to fortify labor unions' positions during strikes and disputes, this provision could pose challenges for employers seeking to maintain operations through temporary labor during such situations.
Notably, the Illinois attorney general holds the authority to suspend or revoke the registration of a temp agency due to violations of these amendments. Moreover, interested parties now possess the right to initiate civil actions against temp agencies or client companies for non-compliance, potentially drawing governmental entities and labor unions into the fray.
In conclusion, Illinois' amendments to the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act signal a commitment to enhancing the rights and safety of temporary workers. The amendments bridge the gap between temp agencies and client companies, potentially triggering joint-employer determinations and expanding the scope of liability for those previously seen as separate entities. However, the lack of clarification on key points leaves both temp agencies and client companies waiting for guidance from the Illinois Department of Labor. As this legal landscape continues to evolve, these amendments are poised to spark further discussions and potential legislative actions in the future.