Last year New Jersey state and local legislatures implemented several employment laws and ordinances that are set to take effect in 2017. This update summarizes these new legal requirements to help New Jersey employers prepare and comply in 2017.
Minimum Wage Increase
In 2013, New Jersey voters approved a referendum requiring the New Jersey Department of Labor to review the state minimum wage on an annual basis and to set increases to the minimum wage. Accordingly, for 2017, the minimum wage in the State of New Jersey increased by $0.06 from $8.38 to $8.44 per hour. As such, all New Jersey employers must ensure that their employees are earning at least the new minimum wage.
In addition, while the minimum wage only increased to $8.44 per hour in 2017, the New Jersey legislature has been actively trying to increase the minimum wage even further. This past summer, the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate both passed bills to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 by 2021. While Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill, proponents of the bill are trying to place the issue of further minimum wage increases on the ballot as a voter referendum during the November 2017 election.
Paid Sick Leave
This year, two more New Jersey municipalities (Morristown and Plainfield) enacted paid sick leave laws that will apply to employers doing business in those municipalities in 2017. These laws permit employees to accrue paid sick leave to care for themselves and/or family members. The new paid sick leave ordinances require employers with at least 10 employees to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave during each calendar year. Employers with less than 10 employees must provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave during each calendar year, unless they employ workers in certain industries. Namely, under the Morristown ordinance, employees who work in the child care, home health care, and food service industries must receive 40 hours of paid sick leave during each calendar year, regardless of the employer’s number of employees. Likewise, under the Plainfield ordinance, employees in the food service and daycare industries must receive 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, regardless of the employer’s number of employees. Under both ordinances, paid sick leave is accrued at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. While accrued but unused paid sick leave may be carried over from one calendar year to the next, employers are not required to provide more than 40 hours of paid sick leave in one calendar year and employers do not need to pay employees for accrued but unused paid sick leave at the time of an employee’s separation. The ordinances also have posting and record keeping requirements that employers must comply with.
Given these new laws and ordinances, employers in New Jersey should review their pay practices and paid sick leave allotments to ensure compliance with each of the legislative changes addressed above and implement any necessary changes.