With 2017 already well underway, New Jersey businesses should be aware of several new regulations, including an increase in the state minimum wage, as well as the adoption of paid sick ordinances by two New Jersey municipalities that went into effect on January 1.
New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL), in 2017, the minimum wage in New Jersey increases by $0.06 from $8.38 to $8.44 per hour. Employers in New Jersey must ensure that they are paying their employees at least the minimum wage in order to remain in compliance with New Jersey employment law guidelines.
Additionally, the New Jersey legislature has been working to increase the state’s mandatory minimum wage even higher over the next few years. The New Jersey Senate passed a bill on June 23, 2016 that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. However, on August 30, 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill, arguing that the minimum wage increase could hurt New Jersey’s small businesses and put employees at risk of being replaced by automated kiosks. Democratic leaders in the New Jersey Senate plan to push back against Governor Christie’s decision by placing the issue on the November 2017 ballot as a referendum.
Paid Sick Leave
Two New Jersey municipalities, Morristown and Plainfield, enacted paid sick leave laws that apply to employees of businesses in those areas. Business owners in these municipalities must allow their employees to accrue paid sick leave to care for themselves or other family members. This ordinance requires employers with a minimum of 10 employees to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave during the calendar year. For employers who have less than 10 employees, they must provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave during the calendar year.
Under the Morristown ordinance, individuals 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 how many employees the employer has. Likewise under the Plainfield ordinance, employees in the food service and day care industries must receive 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, regardless of how many employees the business has.
In both municipalities, current employees begin to accrue paid sick leave upon the date the ordinance goes into effect. New hires accrue sick leave upon hire, however are not entitled to use it until after a certain number of days of employment.
Under the ordinance, an employee must accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. If the employee does not use their accrued paid sick leave within the calendar year, he or she may carry it over to the next calendar year. However, if the employer and the employee part ways due to termination, resignation, retirement or another form of separation from employment, the employer is not required to pay the employee for unused paid sick leave.
As the paid sick leave trend continues to grow, New Jersey employers should monitor changes in their jurisdictions. Employers in New Jersey towns that have enacted these ordinances should review their current paid sick leave allowances as well as current wage practices in order to ensure they are in compliance with the new regulations.
For business owners and employers who wish to determine if their existing leave and/or attendance policies are consistent with the ordinances, or who are seeking to update, revise, or issue new policies as appropriate, it is important to consult an New Jersey business attorney who is knowledgeable of New Jersey business laws and regulations.
If you are a business owner and are concerned about remaining in compliance with current and future regulations, contact the experienced New Jersey business attorneys at The Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney. To schedule a consultation or to learn more about our extensive legal services, call (973) 256-0456.