New Jersey Labor Laws: Everything You Need to Know
New Jersey labor laws help employers and employees understand their rights and protections in the state.7 min read
New Jersey Labor Laws
New Jersey labor laws help employers and employees understand their rights and protections in the state.
In the state of New Jersey, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), a part of the federal Department of Labor, enforces NJ state labor law. Within New Jersey, the Wage and Hour Division enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act concerning the children's employment, minimum wage, and methods of wage payment. The WHD, within the Department of Justice, does not have jurisdiction over New Jersey, or any other state, including state, county, and municipal government unless it pertains to child labor laws. Those employees do fall under the jurisdiction of the Wage and Hour Division.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Minimum Wage
New Jersey has their own State Wage and Hour Law which, in addition to federal law, sets their own minimum wage rate as well as overtime rules and rates for all workers within the state of New Jersey. As of January 2017, the minimum wage in New Jersey was $8.44 per hour which is above the federal minimum wage. This law protects most workers from being paid less than $8.44, but some exceptions do exist. Certain types of salespeople such as outside sales or automobile sales as well as those under the age of 18. There are exceptions to the exceptions as well when it comes to minors such as those working in restaurants or other food service jobs, retail, and others.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Tips
Minimum hourly wage can be lower than the actual minimum wage as long as the employee's tips account for any difference. While there is no law governing the minimum wage regarding jobs where an employee receives tips, the state of New Jersey suggests a rate of $2.13 per hour. In cases where an employee's hourly rate plus their tips does not exceed the minimum wage, an employer is then required to account for any difference.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Reduction of Pay Rate
While an employer cannot reduce the rate of an employee's pay below the minimum wage, they can lower your rate of pay. That hourly amount can't go below $8.44, and your employer must give you advance notice that your hourly rate will be reduced. It also cannot be reduced for hours that you have previously worked.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Overtime Wage
New Jersey State law, as is the case with many other states, requires a 50 percent increase in regular pay, and overtime, when an employee exceeds 40 hours of actual work. There are exemptions for certain employees. Those employees that receive a salary instead of an hourly wage and employees that meet the legal definition of professional, administrative or executive are also exempt from overtime protection.
An executive employee, according to the state of New Jersey's overtime laws, is considered a person who, in performing their duties and roles in a job, directs the work and actions of multiple employees. In this case, two or more full-time employees must report and answer to the executive. The employee must also possess the word management as their primary job function. They also must have the authority to hire employees as well as terminate them, or be able to recommend a change in an employee's working status, like hiring and firing. According to NJ wage laws, an executive must also be compensated by salary and not by an hourly wage. Unless an executive is in the service or retail industry, overtime laws state that an executive employee spends no more than 20 percent of their time performing duties not closely related to, or outside of the aforementioned duties.
An employer can require an employee to work overtime provided the employer pays the appropriate wages and does not violate any existing employer-employee collective bargaining agreement.
Employees do not have the ability to waive their right to minimum wage or overtime pay even if the worker desires to do so. You cannot be asked by your employer to clock out before completing a task or doing work before leaving your place of employment. An example of this behavior is that you cannot be forced to put on a uniform before you clock in to your job. You also can't be required to remove a uniform after you have clocked out.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Unpaid or Withheld Wages
According to New Jersey Wage Payment law, an employer cannot illegally deduct your pay. Examples of this are withholding pay to cover damages such as breakage or spillage while conducting your duties at work. An employer cannot withhold wages in the event of cash register shortages or other money determined to be missing. Federal and state laws prohibit your employer from withholding your wages. State and federal governmental departments have been established for you to initiate claims against an employer who illegally withholds your pay. In the case of the federal government, this is the Wages and Hours Division of the Department of Labor. In the case of New Jersey, this is the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance.
Division of Wage and Hour Compliance
P.O. Box 389
Trenton, NJ 08925-038
Fax Number: (609) 695-1174
New Jersey Labor Laws - Meals and Breaks
Labor laws in New Jersey also cover breaks employees are allowed to take and which are required by law for workers that are under the age of 18. In NJ, those under the age of 18 may not work more than five consecutive hours without a break. Once an employee under the age of 18 has worked five hours an employer is required to give them a 30 minute break. There are no laws in New Jersey governing breaks, lunch breaks or otherwise, for any worker who is 18 years old or older.
While New Jersey does not require employers to provide lunch breaks to their employees the federal government does have certain requirements. While a company does not have to offer an employee a break, if that company's policy states that an employee is entitled to a break, federal law states that break must be paid if it is 20 minutes or shorter. If an employee takes a break that exceeds 20 minutes the employer is not required to pay the employee at that point, though they are not prohibited from doing so.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Severance Pay
New Jersey labor laws do not require employers to give employees any severance pay. If an employer elects to provide severance benefits, it should adhere to any parts of the employee contract or existing policy. Many employers will offer some form of severance payment to an employee who has been fired or laid off, but will make that payment contingent on the employee signing an agreement to release any potential claims he or she may have against the employer, such as for breach of contract or discrimination. Such agreements to waive claims are generally legal, but are often enforceable only if the employer complies with certain requirements.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Fringe Benefits
New Jersey's law does not require fringe benefits. When an employer does elect to provide them, the benefits should be executed uniformly to comply with the company's policy or agreement with the employee. There could be a basis for a claim if the employee can show that the employer didn't hold up its end of the bargain.
The New Jersey Wage Payment Law and Selected Labor Laws enforce separate benefit packages which the employer has agreed to provide, such as payment of:
- Sick leave
- Personal days
- Reimbursement of certain expenses
If an employer chooses to provide benefits, it is up to the employer on how it will be administered.
However, benefits should be administered uniformly in accordance with the established policy, employment agreement or union contract. For family leaves, there are two family leave acts: the New Jersey Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Eligibility for a leave under one or both of these laws depends on whether your employer is covered, the reason you are taking the leave, and the length of your employment. The New Jersey Family Leave Act is not enforced by the state's civil rights division, nor does the wage and hour division oversee any complaints regarding family leave.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Health Insurance Coverage and Medical Benefits
Health insurance is not required under New Jersey law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is set up by the federal government and can require that employers provide employees with health insurance. An employer can end an employee's medical benefit but, the company must give notice if any medical benefits are going to be discontinued or changed
If the company meets certain criteria, an employee may be able to secure transitional, or gap, coverage in health care through the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA). This law was designed to offer employees the option to continue with their company’s health insurance even after they have lost health insurance due to a reduction in hours or lose of their job. In the event any medical benefits are being discontinued, the employee should receive notification in writing at least 30 days ahead of time.
For changes to the medical benefit plan, employees should receive notice right away after the health insurer contacts the company. It depends on both the health insurer and the company's policy to determine how soon benefits end -- it could happen immediately in some cases. Immediate cessation of benefit coverage is not a violation of the law. If the benefit coverage is ceased, you could qualify for COBRA benefits. However, these are not under any regulations from the state.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Sheltered Workshop
Charities can, under New Jersey labor law, hire people with disabilities and pay them less than minimum wage. They'll need to get a specific permit that lists out how long they'll work, what kind of work they'll be doing, and their pay.
People with mental disabilities can also work at government-subsidized sheltered workshops. They can get individual attention that helps them work, especially if they couldn't succeed in a normal workplace.
While sheltered workshops can pay certain employees under the New Jersey State minimum wage, they are governed by state and federal law. New Jersey has several nonprofit sheltered workshops designed to give residents of the state the opportunity to work when they otherwise would not be able to be gainfully employed.
New Jersey Labor Laws - Employment of Minors
According to New Jersey child labor laws, children under the age of 18 can only work a certain number of hours. Additionally, they're limited in what type of jobs they can take on. All minors must receive the appropriate employment certificate before starting work.
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