Hours & Pay Regulations
A workweek shall be a regularly recurring period of 168 hours in the form of seven consecutive 24-hour periods. The workweek need not be the same as the calendar week and may begin any day of the week and any hour of the day. The workweek shall be designated to the employee in advance. Once the beginning time of an employee’s workweek is established, it remains fixed regardless of the schedule of the hours worked. The beginning of the workweek may be changed if the change is intended to be permanent and is not intended to evade the overtime requirements of the act.
State law mandates that employers must pay employees for all the time that they are required to be on duty. Employers must pay employees for at least one hour at the applicable wage rate if they report to work at their employers’ request.
For each hour of working time in excess of 40 hours in any week, every employer shall pay to each of his or her employees, wages at a rate of not less than 1.5 times such employee’s regular hourly wage.
There is no requirement that an employee be paid premium overtime compensation for hours in excess of eight hours per day, nor for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or regular days of rest, other than the required overtime for over 40 hours per week, provided, however, nothing shall relieve an employer of any obligation he or she may have assumed by contract or of any obligation imposed by other State or Federal law limiting overtime hours of work or to pay premium rates for work which are in excess of the minimum required hours.
Breaks are to be provided based on the agreement between employer and employee (FSLA).
Breast Feeding Break
Pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth. Employers are also required to provide an appropriate private place, other than a bathroom, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
New Jersey recently passed a Paid Sick Leave Law set to take effect on October 29, 2018. (details given in special leave section below). Prior to the October 29, 2018, fringe benefits such as vacation pay, sick leave pay and holiday pay was not required by New Jersey State law. If employer do provide these benefits they must be administered uniformly in accordance with the established policy or employment agreement. An individual may have a basis for a claim if an employer fails to adhere to the policy or agreement.
With the signature of its governor on February 4, 2019, New Jersey became the latest state and the third largest to pass a minimum wage bill of $15.00 per hour. California and New York, which enacted similar laws in 2016 and 2017, are the only states with larger populations than New Jersey which passed such $15 minimum wage bills. Under the Law, the state’s current minimum wage of $8.85 per hour will increase to:
- $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019;
- $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020;
- An additional $1.00 per hour on January 1 of each consecutive year until $15.00 per hour in 2024.
Each year thereafter, the minimum wage may increase further depending on the national consumer price index based on state constitutional provisions. The New Jersey law does provide a handful of exceptions, such as seasonal employers and small employers (those with 5 or fewer employees), but most of those exceptions merely extend the schedule for implementing the $15 per hour minimum by a few years.
Cash gratuities are included in wages. The combined wages and tips must equal the minimum wage.
The mandatory break law only applies to minors under the age of 18 and they must be given a thirty (30) minute meal period after five (5) consecutive hours of work. Company policy dictates break and lunch periods for anyone over the age of 18.
Under the New Jersey Family Leave Act, employees are entitled to take leave without losing their jobs. The New Jersey Family Leave Act permits leave to be taken for:
- The care of a newly born or adopted child, as long as leave begins within one year of the date the child is born to or placed with the employee; or
- The care of a parent, a child under 18, spouse, or civil union partner who has a serious health condition requiring inpatient care, continuing medical treatment or medical supervision.
The Family Leave Act considers parents to be: in-laws, step-parents, foster parents, adoptive parents or others having a parent-child relationship with an employee. Each eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of continuous leave during a given 24-month period. When caring for a family member with a serious health condition, an employee may take leave that is not continuous, for example, intermittent leave or a reduced work schedule. Sometimes an employer’s approval is necessary for this type of arrangement if the leave is taken in connection with the birth or adoption of a child.
Amendment to the New Jersey Family Leave Act
On February 19, 2019, Governor Murphy signed into law A-3975, a sweeping piece of legislation that expands New Jersey’s paid family leave laws. Following are some highlights of the bill:
- As of June 30, 2019, the definition of a covered employer would include those with 30 employees, as opposed to 50 employees, for each calendar day of 20 or more calendar workweeks.
- The definition of “parent” is now expanded to include foster parents and those who became parents via a gestational carrier. Likewise, the definition of “family leave” is now expanded to include care for foster children and children who are born via a gestational carrier.
- The definition of “family member” is now expanded to include siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, parents-in-law, domestic partners, any individuals related to the employee by blood, and more broadly, “any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
- Employees are now eligible to take leave under the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE Act”) to care for any of the aforementioned individuals in the event of domestic violence or sexually violent incident. Under the new law, employees are now entitled to a reduced leave schedule for up to 12 consecutive months for any one period of leave, as opposed to 24 consecutive weeks.
Effective October 29, 2018, each employer shall provide earned sick leave to each employee working for the employer in the State. For every 30 hours worked, the employee shall accrue 1 hour of earned sick leave, except that an employer may provide an employee with the full complement of earned sick leave for a benefit year, as required, on the first day of each benefit year. An employer shall be in compliance with this section if the employer offers paid time off, which is fully paid and shall include, but is not limited to personal days, vacation days, and sick days, and may be used for the purposes stated in the act in the manner provided by this act, and is accrued at a rate equal to or greater than the rate.
Upon the mutual consent of the employee and employer, an employee may voluntarily choose to work additional hours or shifts during the same or following pay period, in lieu of hours or shifts missed, but shall not be required to work additional hours or shifts or use accrued earned sick leave. An employer may not require, as a condition of an employee’s using earned sick leave, that the employee search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which the employee is using earned sick leave.
An employer shall permit an employee to use the earned sick leave accrued pursuant to this act for any of the following:
- time needed for diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or for preventive medical care for the employee; or
- time needed for the employee to aid or care for a family member of the employee during diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, the family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or during preventive medical care for the family member; or
- absence necessary due to circumstances resulting from the employee, or a family member of the employee, being a victim of domestic or sexual violence, if the leave is to allow the employee to obtain for the employee or the family member: medical attention needed to recover from physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic or sexual violence; services from a designated domestic violence agency or other victim services organization; psychological or other counseling; relocation; or legal services, including obtaining a restraining order or preparing for, or participating in, any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to the domestic or sexual violence; or
- time during which the employee is not able to work because of a closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee, by order of a public official due to an epidemic or other public health emergencies, or because of the issuance by a public health authority of a determination that the presence in the community of the employee, or a member of the employee’s family in need of care by the employee, would jeopardize the health of others; or
- time needed by the employee in connection with a child of the employee to attend a school-related conference, meeting, function or other event requested or required by a school administrator, teacher, or other professional staff member responsible for the child’s education, or to attend a meeting regarding care provided to the child in connection with the child’s health conditions or disability.
The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act requires a covered employer (one with 25 or more employees) to provide an eligible employee with unpaid leave following any incident of domestic violence or sexually violent offense against the employee or the employee’s child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or civil union partner. To be eligible for leave under the SAFE Act, employees must have:
- Been employed for at least 12 months, and
- Worked no less than 1,000 hours during the preceding 12-month period.
An employee is entitled to take up to 20 days of unpaid leave within one year of the qualifying event in order to get medical attention, obtain services from victim services organizations, obtain psychological or other counseling, safety planning (such as relocation), seek legal assistance, or to attend or participate in preparation for court proceedings. An employer may require documentation of the domestic violence or sexually violent offense. Employees must give as much advance notice to employers for the need to take leave as is reasonable. Employees may elect to use accrued paid leave (or any family temporary disability leave benefits) during any part of the 20-day period of unpaid leave. If the leave also qualifies under the NJFLA or FMLA, the leaves will run concurrently.
Effective January 1st, 2018, employers can’t provide paid or unpaid leave to female employees affected by pregnancy in ways that are less favorable than leave provided to other employees who have a similar ability or inability to work. Pregnancy means pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or expressing milk for breastfeeding, and medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, or breastfeeding.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. 4301, et seq., applies to all employers, regardless of size, including foreign employers doing business in the U.S. USERRA requires all employers to grant a leave of absence for up to 5 years to any person who is absent from a job because of uniformed service. USERRA applies to leaves of absence for all categories of military duty except ‘State Active Duty,’ or Governor ‘call-ups,’ which are protected under N.J.S.A. 38:23C-20a. USERRA only requires a leave of absence; pay for military members is discretionary with each public and private entity.
Any person employed full-time by any agency, independent authority, instrumentality or entity of the State or of any political subdivision of the State shall be excused from employment at all times the person is required to be present for jury service in any court of this State, any court of another state, or any federal district court or in the United States District Court for New Jersey, and shall be entitled to receive from the employer the persons usual compensation for each day the person is present for jury service in lieu of any payment for juror service.
An employer may not terminate, dismiss or suspend any employee who is absent from work due to service in his or her volunteer capacity as a volunteer emergency responder. Volunteer emergency responders include an active member in good standing of a:
- Volunteer fire company;
- Duly incorporated first-aid, rescue or ambulance squad; or
- County or municipal volunteer Office of Emergency Management (provided the member’s official duties include responding to a fire or emergency call).
Leave is unpaid; there is no limit on the amount an eligible employee can take. However, if leave exceeds one workday, daily notice from the incident commander is required. Employees must give their employers at least one-hour advance notice of their absence from work to fulfill emergency services in response to a declared state of emergency or emergency alarm. In addition, employees must provide their employers with documentation verifying their absence was related to volunteer emergency services.
Last updated on: December 4th, 2019