Temporary workers are among the most vulnerable members of the American workforce, often performing physically strenuous and hazardous duties without the security and protection that other workers enjoy, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica reports. In fact, American temp workers are among the least protected temporary workers in the world.
ProPublica cites data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as demonstrating the need for more protections for these temp workers. A temp worker can work for years for a recruitment company without permanent full-time employment status or job security. Additionally, temps may be assigned to some of the most hazardous jobs.
In fact, temp workers are approximately three times more likely than other workers to suffer devastating work-related injuries such as amputations. These workers may also be more financially vulnerable when they are injured, which can lead to a downward spiral into financial ruin and devastation for them and their families.
Hiring temp workers is not restricted to your local small business or farm. Some of the largest companies in the United States have contracted with immigrant labor brokers to hire low-paid workers, even when the brokers had a reputation for cheating laborers out of their pay.
Globally, temp workers have better access to security and protection than in the U.S. For instance, a temp worker in South Korea will be hired by a company as a full-time employee after completing an assignment for two years.
In Germany, temp workers are given the same wages and workplace protections as workers employed directly by a company. In Chile, the government has strict regulations that shut down temporary agencies that cheat workers out of their wages or place workers in dangerous workplace conditions.
The hiring of temp workers in the U.S. increased after the recession and has not slowed down since then. This country needs to seriously evaluate the lack of protection and security for temp workers and make improvements. With a record of protecting temps that compares unfavorably with other countries, the United States can no longer ignore this segment of its workforce.