Day laborers and temporary workers are those who work and are paid on a short-term basis. Day laborers are protected under the 2003 Day Laborers Fairness and Protection Act and earn daily wages. Temp workers are hired by staffing agencies and earn wages based on performance of specific duties for defined periods of time.
Day laborers and temporary employees do not have the same employment rights as regular employees.
If you are a day laborer or temp employee working under a contract or with a public agency, you may earn a "living wage," which is an amount that reflects the local cost of living and the needs of a person or family living in a specific area. While living wage rates differ by region, they are still significantly higher than federal minimum wage.
If you are working on a construction project, you may be entitled to a "prevailing wage," which is the average wage paid to similar employees in a given occupation. Therefore, prevailing wage standards are both area-specific and job-specific.
If you have a valid social security number, you may be eligible for federal Earned Income Tax Credits and state credits.
According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), temp workers do not need the consent of the temp agency or the employer to become involved in union activity.
Day laborers and temp workers are entitled to workers’ compensation, along with state disability insurance in states that give it.
As a day laborer or temp worker, you should take certain measures to ensure your rights. Among the actions you may consider are:
- Seeking solutions from within the agency you work with;
- Discussing your conflict with other workers who may be experiencing the same trouble; and
- Contacting the North American Alliance for Fair Employment (NAFFE), which functions to understand and further the growth of contingent workers, such as day laborers and temp workers, and offers support to workers.
If you have been unfairly treated by your employer, an experienced employment attorney will be able to assess your personal situation and help determine what action can be taken.