New Jersey Labor and Employment Regulations
Employment law basically deals with the rights of the worker within the workplace. Minimum wage requirements, discrimination, sexual harassment, and whistleblower/retaliation complaints for example are all covered under labor and employment laws. In most instances, states such New Jersey follow federal statutes. Nevertheless, many states have exceptions to the federal guidelines. New Jersey, for example, offers a higher minimum wage than the federal government and recently started offering paid family leave insurance. If you work in New Jersey, it is important to be aware of differences among labor laws in order to protect your rights.
New Jersey Minimum Wage Laws
Although the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, New Jersey sets a higher standard. It had been $8.85 per hour until July 1, 2019 when it went up to $10.00 per hour. On January 1, 2020, it went up again to $11.00 per hour and will continue to increase by $1-per-hour every January 1st until it reaches $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2024.
In the case of workers who receive tips as part of their pay, however, employers can pay a lesser wage. New Jersey used to follow the federal minimum of $2.13 an hour until July 1, 2019 when it raised its minimum to $2.63 per hour. It increased to $3.13 on January 1, 2020, and will increase to $4.13 on January 1, 2021, and to $5.13 per hour by 2024.
In any case, an employer must keep accurate records of employee tips. If that employee’s average compensation over a week does not reach the New Jersey minimum wage, then the employer must pay the wage difference.
By raising their minimum wage, New Jersey has joined forces with three other states: New York, Massachusetts and California in addition to the District of Columbia, who have gone above and beyond the federal standard.
Believe it or not, New Jersey employment laws do not mandate breaks for employees during a shift for any reason whatsoever, unless an employee happens to be a minor. If your employer does permit short breaks, he cannot require you to clock out. New mothers, however, are entitled under federal law to short breaks to express breast milk.
New Jersey is an “employment at will” state which means that an employer may end a working relationship at any time without reason or cause. The employer, however, may not terminate an employee for an unlawful cause such as retaliation for whistleblowing. Nevertheless, New Jersey workers are not entitled to any type of warning prior to being dismissed.
Paid Sick Leave
While private employers in New Jersey are not required to offer paid or unpaid holidays and can stipulate that employees work weekends, there have been significant changes to sick leave policies recently.
Previously, employers were not required to offer either paid or unpaid sick leave. In October of 2018, however, a new law went into effect requiring employers to offer up to forty hours of paid sick leave per year. Consequently, New Jersey is now one of ten states along with Washington D.C. to endorse compulsory paid sick leave.
As a general rule, the law which provides the greatest benefits to the individual applies when there is an intersection among federal, state and even local laws. If you have questions about a work-related legal matter or aren’t sure if you are receiving the benefits to which you are entitled, an expert in New Jersey employment law such as Ty Hyderally can help. He can look at your situation and, if necessary, help you take the appropriate legal action to protect your rights.