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Lack of protection for some temporary employees

Some temporary workers are being exploited in Michigan and around the country by companies seeking to keep them on for years without ever hiring them as full-time employees. These permatemps -- so-called because they are basically permanent workers with temporary status -- are often asked to do the same work as regular employees for less money and without the same benefits or employee rights. Some companies deliberately hire these workers for the most hazardous positions. Data from some states reveal that temporary workers are three times as likely to suffer amputations from accidents at work than permanent employees.

The International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies has shown support for equal pay, limited assignment lengths, and other reforms that would improve conditions for temp workers. Its managing director has stated that the group could accept a two-year limitation on temporary employment terms. Some countries already support two years as a maximum duration, or even less time, and yet in the United States there are some people working longer than a decade in a temporary position.

The United States ranks 41st among 43 developed and emerging countries for labor laws that protect temporary workers, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. No bill to protect these workers has even been given consideration by Congress since 1971 when proposed legislation that would have guaranteed workers certain benefits and required licensing of agencies did not pass.

Temporary workers who feel that they have been mistreated may currently have some protection under applicable federal or state laws, depending upon the situation. An attorney with experience in employment law may be able to advise such a worker as to the nature of available recourse.

Source: The Mercury, "Permatemping cases highlight lack of protection for workers", Michael Grabell, February 27, 2014

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