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ASA Meets With Top Officials at Departments of Labor and Commerce

Earlier this week, ASA staff met with U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Kevin Gallagher, senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. The introductory meetings focused on the importance of the staffing industry to the U.S. economy as well as the role ASA members have played during the Covid-19 pandemic.

ASA staff apprised Secretary Walsh of the many opportunities the staffing industry offers the U.S. workforce, including flexibility and choice. Secretary Walsh noted his past dealings with the industry when he was a state legislator and the important role that staffing companies play.

Gallagher also was familiar with the industry through his previous role as deputy chief of staff for then-Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo, and noted the industry’s commitment to worker training and upskilling. Both Walsh and Gallagher suggested that this should be the first of several meetings between the staffing industry and their agencies as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic.

Learn more about ASA’s ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of the staffing industry.

Ohio Repeals Sales Tax on Staffing Services

After years of effort by ASA, the Ohio Staffing & Search Association (an ASA-affiliated chapter), and allies in the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio legislature quietly and without public fanfare repealed the state sales tax on employment services. The repeal provision, which was part of a massive state budget bill, was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine on June 30. The repeal becomes effective on the 91st day following enactment.

Special thanks to Tom Erb and Larry Kidd, longtime ASA members and industry leaders in Ohio, who spearheaded the final push that resulted in the win. ASA has long argued that, by increasing the cost of staffing services, the tax had an adverse effect on jobs and a negative ripple effect throughout the state economy. The influx of money flowing to the state from the American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, is believed to have mitigated lawmakers’ concerns about the loss of tax revenue that historically has been an obstacle to repeal.

ASA and Industry Advocacy Thwart Two California Bills Affecting Staffing

As the California legislature approached its deadline for moving bills from the house of origin to the second house, advocacy efforts led by ASA, its affiliated chapter California Staffing Professionals, and California lobbyist Mike Robson of Edelstein Gilbert Robson & Smith LLC were instrumental in derailing two California bills that would have had a major negative impact on the staffing industry.

AB 650 would have required covered employers, including health care staffing agencies, to pay hazard pay retention bonuses in 2022. AB 1192 would have required large employers to annually collect and submit wage and other worker-related statistics to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

The staffing industry worked with several business groups and trade associations, including the California Hospital Association, in opposing AB 650, urging lawmakers to reject the bill due to its cost implications. Regarding AB 1192, ASA and CSP argued that, given the varying nature of temporary assignments, temporary worker wage and other metrics submitted by staffing agencies would be misleading.

Following weeks of discussions and negotiations, both AB 650 and AB 1192 were moved to the inactive file, meaning they will not be taken up this year. Both bills can be reconsidered during the 2022 legislative session and ASA will re-engage if necessary next year.

Washington State Enacts Temporary Worker Safety Law

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new law aimed at ensuring temporary worker safety in the construction and manufacturing industries. The law requires host employers to review the safety training provided by staffing firms, document and inform staffing firms about the site-specific hazards temporary workers may face, and train temporary workers on any such hazards. If a temporary worker’s job tasks or work location change and new hazards may be encountered, the host employer must inform the staffing firm and employees and must ensure that updated training and personal protective equipment are provided, as necessary.

The law was drafted by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Given that passage was all but certain, the American Staffing Association, lobbyist Melissa Gombosky, and members of the ASA employee safety committee worked with L&I to remove unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements.

Appeals Court Enjoins San Antonio Paid Sick Leave Law

On March 10, the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld a temporary injunction prohibiting San Antonio’s paid sick leave ordinance from going into effect, ruling that the ordinance is unconstitutional. ASA—as well as several staffing firms, business groups, and businesses—is a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the ordinance’s legality.

The ordinance, which provides one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and includes no waiting period for leave use, effectively creates a minimum wage and therefore violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act, which supersedes all local wage ordinances, the court ruled. A paid sick leave ordinance in the city of Austin was similarly struck down in 2018. It is unclear whether the city of San Antonio will appeal the court’s decision.

Industry Advocacy Helps Derail Unnecessary Employer Legislation in Rhode Island

Advocacy by ASA and the Rhode Island Staffing Association, an ASA-affiliated chapter, helped persuade state lawmakers to put legislation on hold that would have imposed new regulatory burdens on businesses that use contract labor.

Rhode Island bill S 139 would make any employer or organization that obtains workers through a subcontractor, staffing organization, or other labor contractor legally liable if that labor contractor violates any of the payment-of-wages laws under Title 28 of the Rhode Island General Laws.

ASA and RISA submitted testimony outlining the staffing industry’s objections to the bill. They argued that the bill was redundant and unnecessary because users of contract labor have long been responsible as joint, special, or secondary employers under a wide range of federal and Rhode Island state labor and employment laws covering every aspect of the employment relationship whenever the user firm directs and controls the work performed by the contract employees.

A coalition of Rhode Island businesses also objected to the bill, arguing that it would penalize users of contract labor even if they had no knowledge of any violation of the wage payment laws.

Faced with unified business opposition, the senate labor committee referred the bill for study, effectively killing it for the year. If lawmakers revisit the subject again during the 2022 legislative session, ASA and RISA will renew their objections.

At Association’s Request, CDC Says Temporary Workers Should Be Included in Client’s Vaccination Plans

At the urging of ASA and members of the ASA employee safety committee, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its website to state that temporary workers should be included in clients’ vaccination plans for essential workplaces. This development is significant, as some health care clients had been reluctant to include temporary workers.

The updated guidance at says, “For workers employed by contract firms or temporary help agencies, the staffing agency and the host employer are joint employers and, therefore, both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment. Workers should be considered for vaccination prioritization according to the primary industry activities at the site(s) where they work, even if the industry category of their actual employer does not fall within these lists.”

ASA participates in the government’s National Occupational Research Agenda service sector group, which provides a research framework to CDC. Through NORA, ASA urged CDC to address clients’ vaccination of temporary workers.

Year-End Spending Bill Extends Work Opportunity Tax Credit Through 2025

When Congress passed its omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2021, most of the business community’s attention was focused on the provisions related to the coronavirus stimulus package. However, there were several other provisions of interest in the bill, including language that dealt with several expiring tax credits.

A coalition of businesses, including ASA, sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to extend the Work Opportunity Tax Credit before it expired at the end of the year. In the letter, the group stated, “Allowing tax extenders to lapse at the end of 2020 would undermine the effectiveness of these incentives, threaten thousands of jobs in the U.S. economy, and cause needless uncertainty for taxpayers at a time when many are coping with severe economic hardship.”

As part of the final spending package, language was included that extended several expiring tax credits, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, through Dec. 31, 2025. President Trump signed the bill into law shortly before the end of the year.

Congress Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill, Allows Businesses to Deduct PPP Expenses

After months of negotiations, starts, stops, and restarts, the U.S. Congress this week sent a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package to President Trump for his signature before heading home for the holiday recess. One of the key provisions of the bill represents a major win for the business community—which ASA had lobbied for over the past several months. In the section of the bill dealing with the Paycheck Protection Program, language was included that clearly states that business expenses paid for with the proceeds of PPP loans are tax deductible.

When the PPP was adopted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Congress made clear that any loan forgiveness under the program would be excluded from the borrower’s taxable income. However, in a notice published in April, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service undercut this policy by denying borrowers the ability to deduct the same expenses that qualified them for forgiveness. Business groups, including ASA, have been lobbying Congress to allow the tax deductibility of payroll and other expenses paid or incurred to achieve loan forgiveness. Recently, ASA sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to support the deductibility language.

The stimulus package also includes additional funding for the PPP and allows small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic to receive a second forgivable loan. It extends all pandemic unemployment insurance programs and reinstates federal supplemental unemployment insurance benefits through March 14, 2021. The bill, which was included as part of the end-of-the-year spending agreement, is expected to be signed by the president.

ASA Advocacy Helps Defeat Predictive Scheduling Bill in Massachusetts

A two-year battle over legislation in Massachusetts that would have severely restricted the use of temporary employees by certain businesses ended when the bill was referred for study last week, killing it for the session.

The bill called for fast food, retail, and hospitality employers to provide their workers with written, good faith estimates of an employee’s work schedule upon hire, and 14 days’ advance notice of any new schedule. It also would have required that such employers pay employees additional compensation if they change employee work schedules on short notice. Finally, covered businesses would have been prohibited from using any third-party workers unless they first offer additional work to their existing employees.

ASA; the Massachusetts Staffing Association, an ASA-affiliated chapter; and lobbyist Murphy Donoghue Partners met with state lawmakers and submitted testimony urging that the bill be amended to explicitly exclude staffing firm temporary workers. Referral of the bill to a study committee last week ended further consideration for the year. However, it may be reintroduced when the 2021 legislative session commences in January, at which time ASA will continue its advocacy efforts.