Practicing employment law in the State of New Jersey is both a blessing and a curse. I’ll clarify that. It’s great for me because New Jersey passes new employment laws faster than Joey Chestnut eats Nathan’s Hot Dogs on the Fourth of July. So, rather than put off installing the 24-carat gold retractable Bloggerdome roof until the Fall, we’re moving up construction to the Spring.
It’s not so good for you — and by ‘you,’ I mean those of you that don’t employ anyone in the Garden State — because I keep blogging about these new laws.
And today is no different.
For my New Jersey businesses, here are five action items that, hopefully, you’ve already addressed for the new year.
(For the rest of you, shout out to my friends at Littler who have prepared this table of new state and federal laws taking effect across the country on January 1).
1. On January 1, most employers must pay a minimum wage of $11/hr.The minimum wage for employees of smaller employers (fewer than six employees) and agricultural employers will be $10.30/hr. If you have tipped employees, the cash wage for tipped workers jumps to $3.13 per hour. Here is a chart summarizing all of the wage increases for 2020 and beyond.
2. If you’re going to ask job applicants about their salary history, inquire quickly, like today or tomorrow. Come Jan. 1, 2020, questions about a job applicant’s salary history, benefits, and other compensation during the hiring process are a big no-no. There are some exceptions to the rule. For example, an applicant may volunteer the information. An employer may also request that an applicant provide the employer with a written authorization to confirm salary history, including, but not limited to, the applicant’s compensation and benefits, after making an offer of employment to the applicant that includes an explanation of the overall compensation package. Additionally, this rule does not apply to internal transfers or use by the employer of previous knowledge obtained as a consequence of prior employment with the employer. Further, if federal law mandates disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes, then ask away. Moreover, if you’re conducting a reference check and, oops, a prior employer discloses salary history information even though you told them not to, you’re ok as long as you don’t retain that information or consider it when determining the salary, benefits, or other compensation of the applicant. Finally, if a position that you are seeking to fill has an incentive or commission component, you can ask about an applicant’s previous experience with incentive and commission plans and the terms and conditions of the plans. Just don’t ask the applicant how much s/he earned.
3. If you operate a hotel with at least 100 guest rooms, you must provide each employee who performs “housekeeping or room service duties,” without other employees present, a “panic device.” This includes “any subcontractor” of the hotel employer. A “panic device” is a “two-way radio or other electronic device” that enables the employee to call security, management, or other appropriate hotel staff member for help right away. The law includes additional training and recordkeeping requirements too.
The next two items are friendly reminders from the folks at Seyfarth Shaw:
4. Under New Jersey’s whistleblower law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), employers with ten or more employees (regardless of whether they work in or out of NJ) must distribute this CEPA notice.
5. Employers with 50 or more employees (again, regardless of employee location) must give employees this Gender Equity Notice. Employees must acknowledge receipt (signature or e-verify) and return the acknowledgments within 30 days of receipt of the Notice.
I’ll be back tomorrow to close out the year with a list of the most-read posts of 2019.