New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed S2374 into law, expanding the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”) and New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law (“NJTDBL”) and providing additional employee protections during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and future epidemics, including (1) the expansion of reasons for leave; (2) certification changes; (3) intermittent use of such leave; (4) changes related to highly compensated employees; and (5) the expansion of the scope of compensable leave under NJTDBL. These changes are effective immediately and apply retroactively to March 25, 2020.
NJFLA—Expanded Reasons for Leave
During a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or when indicated to be needed by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority, due to “an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease,” an employee may use NJFLA leave for the following new reasons:
Childcare—to care for a child due to a school or daycare closure;
Mandatory quarantine— to care for a family member subject to mandatory quarantine; and
Voluntary self-quarantine—to care for a family member whose doctor recommends a voluntary self-quarantine.
On April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 2353 into law, which excludes mass layoffs resulting from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic from the notice and severance pay requirements contained in the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (“NJ WARN”). Prior to this change, employers faced uncertainty on whether they would be obligated to provide notice and severance pay to each full-time employee that was terminated with less than the required 60-days’ notice due to the pandemic.
Specifically, SB 2353 revises the definition of “mass layoff” to mirror the exceptions that are already contained in NJ WARN’s definition of “termination of operations.” As a result, a mass layoff which would otherwise require notice shall not include one “made necessary because of a fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder or industrial sabotage, decertification from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs as provided under Titles XVIII and XIX of the federal “Social Security Act,” Pub.L. 74-271 (42 U.S.C. s.1395 et seq.) or license revocation pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et al.).” These changes go into effect immediately and are retroactive to March 9, 2020, the date that Governor Murphy declared a COVID-19-based state of emergency and public health emergency in New Jersey via Executive Order 103. Continue reading “NJ WARN Amended in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic”
New Jersey and New York are the latest states to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their pay history and considering pay information in making employment decisions.
In New Jersey, effective January 1, 2020, private employers cannot screen applicants based on their pay history. Employers also cannot require an applicant’s salary history satisfy a certain minimum or maximum criteria. Employers may not consider an applicant’s refusal to provide compensation information in making an employment decision.
Effective January 1, 2020, private employers in New Jersey are prohibited from asking job applicants about their salary, wage, and benefit history and are not permitted to make hiring decisions based on that information. Employers will also be prohibited from requiring that an applicant’s salary history satisfy certain minimum or maximum requirements.
There are notable exceptions to this prohibition, which include the following:
If an applicant “voluntarily, without employer prompting or coercion,” discloses salary or wage information, the employer may verify whether the information was accurate and use the information to determine compensation to be paid to the applicant;
An employee is applying for internal transfer or promotion with a current employer;
Actions taken by an employer pursuant to a federal law or regulation that expressly requires the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes; and
After an offer of employment has been made that includes an explanation of the overall compensation package, an employer may confirm an applicant’s salary history upon the applicant’s written authorization.
Employers who violate the law can be fined up to $1,000 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense, and $10,000 for violations thereafter.
Please contact a member of Blank Rome’s Labor & Employment practice group if you have any questions about compliance with New Jersey’s salary and wage ban or any other employment issues.
As predicted in a previous post, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 121 last month. This bill has two primary effects:
“A provision in any employment contract [(other than a collective bargaining agreement, which is excepted)] that waives any substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment” is now against public policy and unenforceable.
“A provision in any employment contract or settlement agreement which has the purpose or effect of concealing the details relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment” is now unenforceable “against a current or former employee who is a party to the contract or settlement,” but remains enforceable against the employer unless “the employee publicly reveals sufficient details of the claim so that the employer is reasonably identifiable.”
The practical effect of these provisions is a ban on companies’ use and enforcement of nondisclosure provisions to conceal claims of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment and a ban on companies’ efforts to avoid or frustrate application of New Jersey law through, among other things, forum-selection, dispute resolution, and choice-of-law provisions. While the law does permit employers to defend themselves against an employee who publicizes information related to such claims, in order to exercise that right, “[e]very settlement agreement resolving a discrimination, retaliation, or harassment claim by an employee against an employer shall include a bold, prominently placed notice that although the parties may have agreed to keep the settlement and underlying facts confidential, such a provision in an agreement is unenforceable against the employer if the employee publicly reveals sufficient details of the claim so that the employer is reasonably identifiable.” Continue reading “New Jersey Governor Signs #MeToo Bill, Potentially Impacting All Employment and Settlement Agreements—Employers Beware!”
The bill (NJ A3975), revamping the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”) and Family Leave Insurance (“FLI”), was passed in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature on January 31, 2019. Governor Murphy is expected to sign the bill today, with some changes effective immediately.
As a reminder, NJFLA provides job-protected leave for workers at large employers to care for family members. On the other hand, FLI provides wage-replacement benefits to workers during a leave used to care for a family member. FLI applies regardless of the size of the employer and is funded by employee payroll deductions.
As we reported last week, New Jersey employers need to get ready for minimum wage increasing to $15 per hour. The bill, which passed on party lines last Thursday, was signed into law today by Governor Murphy. It provides the following timetable to raise the minimum wage:
$15 per hour by 2024, for most minimum wage earners;
$15 per hour by 2026, for minimum wage earners at seasonal businesses and small businesses;
$12.50 per hour by 2024, for agricultural minimum wage earners; and
New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase by 25 cents, from $8.60 to $8.85 per hour, effective January 1, 2019. For non-exempt employees making the minimum wage, employers will be required to pay an overtime rate of $13.28 for every hour worked over 40 in a work week, to comply with the State’s minimum wage requirements.
Employers should be aware that one of Governor Phil Murphy’s top legislative priorities is to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Although the Legislature passed a $15-an-hour minimum wage bill in 2016, which was vetoed by then-Governor Chris Christie, neither Governor Murphy nor the Legislature has communicated a path forward to get another bill on the table.
As wage payment violations carry significant penalties in New Jersey, you should contact a member of Blank Rome’s labor & employment practice group if you have any questions about compliance with New Jersey’s minimum wage increase or any other wage and hour issues.
In an earlier post, we provided a preview of the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act. The Act goes into effect on October 29, 2018. Last week, the Department of Labor and Workplace Development, the state agency responsible for interpreting the Act, published a “Notice of Employee Rights” under the Act and a copy of that Notice/Poster is available here. The Notice must be posted by employers in conspicuous locations in every worksite in New Jersey and must be distributed to all New Jersey employees by November 29 and at the time of hiring for all new employees hired after October 29.
The Act imposes significant obligations on employers in New Jersey. You can contact a member of Blank Rome’s labor & employment practice group if you have any questions about what needs to be in your policies.
Attention New Jersey employers: It looks like the Garden State is next in line to require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act has now been passed by both the state assembly and senate, and Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign the bill into law.
Similar to the paid sick leave laws in other states, New Jersey will mandate that employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours. In the alternative, employers can frontload 40 hours of paid sick time on the first day of each benefit year. This can be done through an existing paid time off (“PTO”) policy, so long as the PTO days can be used for any of the reasons permitted under the Act, and are accrued at an equal or greater rate than what the Act requires. The Act states that employers are not required to permit employees to carry over more than 40 hours of paid sick leave from one benefit year to the next, but it appears that carryover is otherwise required. Additionally, employers are not obligated to pay employees for any accrued but unused time upon their separation from the company. Continue reading “New Jersey Jumps on the Paid Sick Leave Bandwagon”