New Jersey Senate Fast Tracks Paid Sick Leave Bill

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Benefits

Currently, there is no New Jersey state law requiring private sector employers to provide employees with paid or unpaid sick leave. However, the New Jersey State Senate has fast tracked legislation, Bill 799, to impose a mandatory sick leave requirement on private employers.  S-799 stipulates that all companies, regardless of size, would have to provide at least five, and as many as nine, sick days per year to all of their employees – even part-time workers.   More specifically, the Senate bill would require employers to grant workers an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  Workers at businesses with fewer than 10 employees would be able to accrue up to 40 hours of sick time that could be carried over from one year to the next.  Employers with 10 or more workers would be required to allow them to accrue and carry over up to 72 hours of sick leave.

At least nine municipalities in New Jersey already require some form of mandatory sick leave. For example, private employers within the city limits of Jersey City with 10 or more employees are required to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year to eligible employees.

This debate in New Jersey is taking place amid a growing interest nationwide for paid sick leave, exemplified by an executive order issued by President Obama on Labor Day that requires federal contractors to provide employees with paid sick leave.

Employers should stay abreast of developments on this bill which, if passed, would require employers to rewrite their existing sick leave policies and perhaps rethink their vacation and other leave policies. Employers who operate in multiple states should also follow changes in local and state laws, as other jurisdictions and cities, Philadelphia, for example, have enacted paid sick leave laws which may affect out- of-state employers operating within their jurisdictional limits.  Hill Wallack employment law attorneys are available to help navigate paid sick leave laws and how they may affect clients in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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Minimum Wage Update

Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Benefits, FLSA

By Felicity S. Hanks, Esq. and Joseph M. McGinley, Esq.

Minimum wage reform has become a prevalent and at times polarizing issue. The trend in recent years has been to increase wages above federal minimum standards. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour.[1] This rate is a floor; states may legislate to provide higher minimum wage rates, but may not pay workers below the federal standard. In complying with this provision, U.S. states and territories are split in whether they provide for higher wage benefits to workers or rely on the federal minimum.

Currently, thirty states and territories have minimum wage requirements that exceed the federal minimum of $7.25/hour.[2] The remaining states and territories meet the federal standard either expressly or by default: seventeen states have minimum wage rates equivalent to the federal minimum,[3] five states have no minimum wage law (thus, federal law applies),[4] and two states have minimum wage rates lower than the federal minimum (those laws are superseded by the federal minimum wage).[5]

On February 12, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, which raised the minimum wage for workers on Federal construction and service contracts to $10.10/hour. Although President Obama’s executive order increased rates for federal contract workers, only Congress has the authority to increase the federal minimum wage rate; it has declined to do so.

The minimum wage rate in Pennsylvania is set equal the federal standard.[6] New Jersey provides for a slightly higher rate at $8.38/hour. Interestingly, the New Jersey minimum wage will continue to change in upcoming years in tandem with the consumer price index.[7]

Many states continue to debate raising their minimum wage requirements; in response to legislative inaction, some localities have taken matters into their own hands. Major cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago have voted to gradually increase to minimum wage to $15/hour in the upcoming years, while Oakland has voted to increase its minimum wage to $10.10/hour.

Due to the wide variation of minimum wage rates across the United States, it is important for businesses to keep abreast of federal, state, and local minimum wage requirements, especially if a business operates and employs workers in multiple states. We encourage employers to consult with employment attorneys regarding any minimum wage issues or concerns and to stay aware of proposed legislation.

 

[1]Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206.

[2] Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

[3] Guam, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Texas, Utah, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin.

[4] Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee all have no minimum wage laws.

[5] Georgia and Wyoming.

[6] 43 P.S. § 333.101 et seq.

[7] N.J.S.A. 34:11-56 et seq.

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EEOC vs. Company Wellness Programs

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Benefits, Disability Discrimination

By Felicity Hanks, Esq. (fhanks@hillwallack.com)

With its third lawsuit in as many months, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has made known its condemnation for certain aspects of company wellness programs. Its focus, in part, appears to be on the voluntariness of participation in such programs, and the agency claims that incentive plans which result in penalties or discipline for those individuals that choose not to participate in the wellness programs make the programs compulsory and thus violative of federal law.

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Minimum Wage Increases for Federal Contract Workers Moves Forward

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Benefits

By Felicity Hanks, Esq. fhanks@hillwallack.com

In February 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13658 which established an hourly minimum wage of $10.10 for federal contract workers. The President’s directive was grounded on increasing efficiency, recognizing that: “[r]aising the pay of low-wage workers increases their morale and the productivity and quality of their work, lowers turnover and its accompanying costs, and reduces supervisory costs. These savings and quality improvements will lead to improved economy and efficiency in Government procurement.” The minimum wage increase to $10.10 becomes effective for new and replacement contracts solicited or awarded on or after January 1, 2015. Commencing on January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, the U.S. Secretary of Labor will set the minimum wage amount.

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT 101 FOR EMPLOYERS

Posted by on Sep 7, 2012 in Benefits

by Susan L. Swatski, Esquire (email / link to bio)

Now that the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) has been upheld by the Supreme Court, the time has come for employers to start figuring out what the new law means to your business. Keeping in mind that feature length articles and undoubtedly books are being written on this topic, my goal here is to provide you with some quick and easy guidance to set you on the path to compliance.

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