The Great Recession and its aftermath have had a profound impact on employment in the U.S. In addition to an increase in unemployment which lingered for many years, this time period led to fundamental changes in the way employers hire employees. One example of such a change was that some employers chose to hire independent contractors instead of hiring traditional employees. While many employers adhered to the guidelines set out by the DLSE and only hired true independent contractors, some did not and their failure to do so led to litigation.
Today, as the economy recovers, a new change has become a major news headline: the rise of temporary employees. USA Today recently published an article indicating that while temporary employees made up less than half of one percent of all U.S. employees in the 1980’s, that number has now increased dramatically to 2.3%, with economists predicting that this percentage will increase in the years ahead. In fact, the temporary employee sector was one of the fastest growing sectors in the year 2013.
Just like the shift to independent contractors, this shift to temporary employees can create legal issues for employers. The first place to start would be California Labor Code section 201.3, which defines who qualifies as a temporary employee and outlines some of their rights under the law. For example, based on the circumstances, a temporary employee may be due their wages at the end of each work day. As to employers who contract with agencies that provide temporary employees, California is currently considering a bill that would hold employers legally responsible for wage and safety violations committed by such agencies. At this point, it is unclear whether this particular bill will come to fruition. However, what is certain is that as this sector of the economy grows, the legal landscape will shift to accommodate what is already a large number of workers.
Sean Haddad is a business and employment attorney at Appell Shapiro, LLP in Los Angeles, California.