California workers who are not working for an employer directly and are considered temporary agency employees are often confused about whether state laws dictating their safety rights as an employee apply. While a person who works for a temporary agency works for a host employer, they will be on the payroll of a primary employer. The primary employer can be one of two entities: a temporary agency that does the hiring and then provides employers with staff, or a professional employer organization that has the host employer’s workers on its payroll and considers them their own employees. In these situations, the host employer and the primary employer are responsible for the safety of the workers and must adhere to the regulations under the law.
The payment for the worker will be provided by the primary employer. It handles workers’ compensation and has the right to hire and fire as it chooses. The host employer is contracting the worker and will be in a supervisory capacity at the particular job. The primary employer is required to: conduct an evaluation at the worksite of the host employer by inspecting it; make certain that the employees are protected by various safety programs and that they are adequately trained and have the proper safety equipment; and tell the workers that they have the right under the law to refuse to do work that is considered dangerous and do so without being penalized.
There are certain practices that primary employers must follow. They are: having an awareness of potential hazards at the worksite of the host employer and agreeing with the host employer regarding responsibility for employee training; agreeing to a partnership between the parties to determine what circumstances are dangerous and making sure that there is a protective protocol in place; keeping contact with employees and keeping track of their safety and health; taking part in accident investigations and what caused them; understanding the various pieces of equipment that are used on the job and the training requirements for them; and training and educating employees to have their certifications and licenses up to date.
Temporary agency employees must be fully cognizant of their employee benefits, protective practices and other factors that are in place for their own safety. If there is a violation or some other issue, it is important to discuss the matter with an attorney who is experienced in employee rights for temporary agency workers.
Source: dir.ca.gov, “Protecting Temporary Agency Employees,” accessed on Sept. 20, 2016