As we previously blogged about here, New Jersey is moving forward with several employee-friendly laws.

  • $15 Minimum Wage by 2024. New Jersey joins California, Massachusetts, New York City, Washington, D.C., and, most recently, Illinois in enacting a $15.00 minimum wage, up from the current state minimum wage of $8.85. The NJ minimum wage will increase incrementally as follows for most workers:
    • $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019.
    • $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020.
    • $1.00 per hour added every year on January 1 until $15.00 is reached on January 1, 2024.
  • Expanded Paid Family Leave. New Jersey enacted several expansions to the State's Paid Family Leave program, including:
    • Expanding eligibility. Employees may now take paid family leave to care for foster children, domestic partners, siblings, in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, other blood relatives, and any individual who is the equivalent of family, in addition to immediate family members. Employees may also take family temporary disability leave to obtain medical, psychological, or legal assistance for themselves or a family member arising from domestic or sexual violence.  
    • Doubling the number of weeks for Family Leave Insurance (FLI) and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI). Beginning in 2020, employees can take up to 12 consecutive weeks of paid family leave or temporary disability insurance during a 12-month period, up from the current limit of 6 weeks.
    • Increasing the weekly benefit. Employees can now receive 85% of their weekly wage, up to a maximum of 70% of the statewide average weekly wage. In practical terms, this means the maximum possible benefit is now $860 a week, up from $650 a week.
    • Increasing intermittent leave. Beginning in July 2020, employees will be able to take up to 56 days of intermittent leave within a 12-month period, up from 42 days currently. 

New Jersey employers should watch for updates on pending bills affecting these issues:

  • Non-Disclosure Agreements in Harassment and Discrimination Claims. Senate Bill 121 would prohibit any agreement that has a binding confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. If this law passes, any settlement agreement pertaining to a discrimination or harassment claim will have to "include a bold, prominently placed notice" stating that any confidentiality provision in the agreement is "unenforceable against the employer."
  • Severance Pay for Certain Mass Layoffs. Senate Bill 3170 would increase the notice period under New Jersey's "mini-WARN" law to 90 days (up from 60), and would require employers to pay severance in the amount of 1 week of pay per year of service. Additionally, employers who fail to provide 90-day notice would be required to pay 4 more weeks of severance pay on top of the years-of-service severance pay.
  • Change of Business Ownership. In addition to providing severance pay, Senate Bill 3170 would require successor employers to retain employees at their current rates of pay for 180 days following a change of company ownership, unless the successor receives approval by the Commission of Labor.
  • Employee Credit Checks. Senate Bill 545 prohibits employers from requiring credit checks on applicants or employees unless strict requirements are met. The bill still allows employers to use credit checks for employees in certain managerial positions, employees who have the authority to enter into contracts on behalf of the employer, and employees with access to consumer financial information. 

Take-Aways for New Jersey Employers:

  • Ensure you are compliant with minimum wage increases beginning this July.
  • Review and update your policies on Paid Family Leave to ensure compliance with the new expanded law.

Watch for updates - New Jersey has been one of the busiest states for employment laws in recent years, and shows no signs of slowing down. We are here to help!

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