SB 556 holds government agencies responsible when subcontracted workers appear to be their employees (2-year bill)

Update: On September 11th, Senate Bill 556 was moved to the Assembly’s Inactive File, making it a 2-year bill. The bill will be brought back up during next year’s session.

Consumer Federation of California, California Professional Firefighters, and California Labor Federation are co-sponsoring SB 556 (Corbett), which will hold government agencies responsible when subcontracted workers appear to be their employees.

California and the nation have experienced steady increases in contingent work. The public sector is are routinely hiring through third party intermediaries, such as labor contractors, temporary staffing agencies, and other subcontractors. Since 2009, 54 percent of all jobs created have been in temporary services.

Considering today’s growing subcontracted workforce, the relationship between the worker who shows up at the front door and the company that sent them can be confusing to many consumers. As such, the state has a responsibility to prevent unfair or deceptive practices that may result in confusing Californians when an otherwise government-provided service is requested or required.  And, when it comes to those who render essential public services, including critical, property and/or life-saving services, accountability becomes all the more significant.

SB 556 provides that when a public agency contracts out its labor or services via the use of a private subcontractor, who in turn utilizes the agency’s seal, emblem, brand name, or content on their vehicles or workers’ uniforms together with an appearance that leads the public to believe that the provider is an employee of a government agency, that vehicle or uniform must include a conspicuously-displayed disclaimer specifying that the provider is not a government employee.

Public awareness of who is actually providing critical public services is essential to ensuring accountability. And accountability is especially important when public agency subcontractors seek to convey a particular image or branded reputation through the use of an agency’s logo.

SB 556 will provide basic consumer protections and encourage responsible contracting practices.

Organizations supporting SB 556 (partial list):

California Professional Firefighters (co-sponsor)
California Labor Federation (co-sponsor)
Consumer Federation of California (co-sponsor)
California Teamsters Public Affairs Council
California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union
United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Western States Council
Engineers and Scientists of California
California Conference of Machinists
Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21
International Longshore & Warehouse Union
Utility Workers Union of America, Local 132