On Monday 12/19, the Legislature met for the last time this calendar year. The following is an update on employment and labor legislation that we worked on in 2016 and will continue to work on in 2017.
Minimum Wage – Legislation (A-15) to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over four years was vetoed by the Governor. NJBIA lobbied against the $15 minimum wage because it went too far too fast and would have had a devastating impact on our state’s economic recovery and our small businesses, which would have had to cut employees or raise prices in order to deal with higher payroll costs.
Sponsors of the minimum wage legislation announced a plan to amend the constitution to circumvent the Governor and place the minimum wage question on the 2017 ballot. NJBIA led an effort opposing this measure and was successful in keeping a resolution from being voted on in 2016. For more information on this click here.
Paid Sick Leave Mandate – The original Senate proposal (S-799) would have required all employers to provide workers with either 5 or 9 days of paid time off, depending on the company size. NJBIA worked with the Senate sponsor in securing several amendments to the Senate bill, including amendments that would exempt businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The Assembly took no action on the legislation, which requires approval from both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s signature before it can become law.
NJBIA will continue to work with the sponsors in the coming year to ensure business interests are considered if the legislation begins to move again. For our most recent coalition letter opposing the legislation click here.
Wage Theft – NJBIA respects the intent of this legislation (A-862); worker abuse should not be tolerated in any form. However, the bill contains several areas of concern. It would add layers to New Jersey’s existing statutes that could result in workplace mandates that are confusing and difficult to comply with, yet still not solve the problem of worker exploitation. It does not differentiate between knowing and negligent violations, and could result in unintentional actions being treated in an overly punitive manner. The bill provides for liquidated damages equal to 200 percent of the wages owed, twice the amount required under federal law.
NJBIA will continue to work with the sponsors to ensure future versions of this bill are targeted towards employers who knowingly and willfully commit wage and hour law violations.
Flexible Scheduling – Legislation (A-1117) that would have imposed new mandates on employers with 15 or more employees concerning schedules was considered in the Assembly Labor Committee. The legislation requires affected employers to prove that there is a “bona fide business reason” for denying certain schedule change requests, or face financial and legal penalties.
Additionally, it mandates that retail, food services, and cleaning employers must: post schedules at least two weeks in advance; pay employees if they work less than their scheduled time; pay employees who are requested to call-in to see if they are needed; and provide extra pay for shift changes made with less than 24 hours’ notice.
NJBIA strongly opposed the legislation. The bill was successfully moved out of committee. The sponsors, however, agreed to work on some of our concerns before moving forward with this legislation.
You can review our written testimony here.
Pay Equity Bill – Legislation (S-992) that would have lifted the two-year cap on the amount of back pay a claimant could recover in wage violation claims and would have expanded reporting requirements for all public contracts was vetoed by the Governor. NJBIA opposed this bill and suggested amendments to codify the two-year cap on back pay for wage violations and remove the expanded reporting requirements provision.
There was a scheduled vote in the Senate to override the Governor’s veto on Monday, 12/19. The Senate sponsor, however, decide to delay the vote to discuss a possible compromise bill. NJBIA will be monitoring these negotiations closely and will keep you posted on the details.
Salary History – Legislation (A-3480) prohibiting employers from using salary history at any stage of the hiring process moved in the Assembly. NJBIA opposed the legislation in its current form and suggested amendments to permit employers to confirm salary history when an applicant voluntarily offers the information and after an offer including salary and compensation has been made.
NJBIA continues to work with the sponsors on amendments.
Cybersecurity – NJBIA supported legislation (S-808) that seeks to protect New Jersey’s cybersecurity infrastructure, produce more efficient and protected proprietary networks, strengthen New Jersey’s cybersecurity framework, and advance economic development in the area of cybersecurity. It also will capitalize on the critical need for secure business data by attracting cybersecurity companies, since occupations in the cybersecurity industry are among the fastest growing in the economy.
The bill passed the full Senate on Monday, 12/19.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season! I look forward to continuing our work in 2017.