Journalism in the Public Interest

Temp Worker Regulations Around the World

The United States has some of the weakest labor protections for temp workers in the developed world. Other countries have adopted regulations limiting the length of temp assignments, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work and restricting companies from hiring temps for hazardous tasks. Here, we map out how countries compare based on data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which produces research on behalf of the world’s industrialized nations.

Regulation Score per Country

Click a country to see more details. Note: this data does not include guest workers, who may face a very different set of rules. Related Story »

The U.S. and Canada have some of the least strict regulation of temp workers, with no limit on duration or guarantee of equal treatment. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have the strictest regulation of temp workers, prohibiting them in most cases Slovenia has some of the strictest licensing rules for temp agencies. Such rules are rare in the U.S. Brazil has a three month limit for temp work. The U.S. has no limit.


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Any limits on the types of work where temp work is legal?

Maximum Duration

How long temp workers can be employed?

Licensing & Registration

Any special authorization or reporting required?

Equal Treatment

Must employers provide equal pay and benefits to temp workers?

United States

OECD Score: 0.33See Details »

Generally none


No limit

No limit

No, except in a few states

Licenses for employment agencies are issued in accordance with individual states' licensing statutes. Often, these statutes delegate the authority to a Commissioner of Licenses who decides on the issuance of a license based on the applicant's character. The license may have a short duration, such as for two years, and would need to get renewed.


There is no requirement for equal treatment in US federal law beyond minimum standards guaranteed to all workers. Some states may require equal treatment. In general, both groups of workers, permanent and temporary, may bargain for additional benefits. For example, on August 6, 2012, Massachusetts passed a law that allows temporary workers the right to know who their employer is, their job description, their rate of pay, their starting and ending times and expected duration of the job, among other pieces of information. Healthcare Cost Containment Act, 2012 Mass. Acts S 2400

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (PDF)