Do Temporary Employees Have Rights?

We often hear from temporary workers who believe they have fewer rights because they are hired indirectly through an agency. Fortunately, this is wrong.

Temporary workers are generally entitled to the same legal protections as other workers, including the right to fair wages and overtime pay, and protection from discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. Whether you have worked for a job for a few days or a few months in a temporary role, you are covered by many similar rights as that of permanent workers.

We cover more about the rights of temporary employees below. 

Are Temporary Workers Covered by Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Yes. Temporary employees are protected by the State and federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). These laws generally ban discrimination based on “protected characteristics,” including the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Age (over 40)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion

Can Temporary Employees Take Sick Days?

Temporary workers may also be covered by State and federal leave of absence and paid sick leave laws including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL), and the California Paid Sick Leave Law (PSL).

Some of these laws have eligibility requirements—they usually require that you work for the employer for a set length of time—but these eligibility requirements are no different for temporary workers than for permanent workers. For example, the CFRA requires that you work at an employer with more than five employees and have been employed for at least one year and 1,250 hours. If you meet these requirements, it does not matter whether you are formally designated as a temporary or permanent employee. You can learn more about leave of absence laws here.

Are Temporary Workers Protected from Employer Retaliation?

Yes. The same anti-discrimination laws that protect full-time, permanent workers from retaliation also protect temporary workers. That means that if you complain about harassment, failure to pay wages, unsafe working conditions, being asked to do illegal things, or engage in other “protected activity,” neither your direct employer nor the temp agency is allowed to retaliate against you.

Are Temporary Workers Entitled to Retirement & Medical Benefits?

Sometimes. Under the United States Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, a temporary employee is entitled to participate in a company retirement plan if they work for the employer for more than 1,000 hours in a single year. This is about half time, or 20 hours a week.

You also may be entitled to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if your employer has more than 50 employees and you work more than 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month.

Can Temporary Workers Receive Overtime Pay & Rest Breaks?

The same wage and hour rules apply to temporary and “permanent” workers. That means that if you work in a non-exempt position, you are entitled to overtime pay, meal and rest periods, and timely payment of your wages.

Our Employment Lawyers Fight for California Workers

At King & Siegel LLP, we have helped hundreds of workers hold employers accountable through legal actions. If you have been discriminated against, retaliated against, denied your rightful wages, or wrongfully terminated, our attorneys are here to help.

Need legal help? We provide free, confidential consultations to California workers. You should contact us as soon as possible to make sure your claim is still within the time limits set by law.

If you have experienced discrimination or your employer has wrongfully denied you sick leave, contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to schedule a free consultation.

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