Boo! Some non-scary updates on NJ minimum wage, firing/paying employees, SALT BAE(!), and more!

We wish you all an enjoyable and SAFE Halloween! Before you eat too much candy this weekend, we wanted to provide some non-spooky updates that will impact all employers in our area.

NJ minimum wage increase

New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase from $11/hour to $12/hour on January 1, 2021 for most employers. There’s an exception for “small businesses” – so if you have five or less employees for the majority of the year, your minimum wage will increase to $11.10/hour.

As a reminder, New Jersey is increasing its minimum wage across the board every year until it reaches $15/hour on January 1, 2026.

Don’t fire employees who complain about pay (a Salt Bae saga)

Firing your employees because they root for the (insert hated sports team)? Not entirely recommended, but sure. Firing your employees because they collectively raised concerns about work conditions, such as pay, hours, or COVID-19 safety? Not cool. Bad. Don’t do it. A recent case (involving Salt Bae of course!) is a good reminder that even if your company doesn’t employ union workers, you’re still subject to the National Labor Relations Act – that law which protects employees who engage in certain concerted activity (such as raising issues concerning pay). Takeaway: don’t discipline employees because they speak up about workplace issues.

Tracking hours for remote workers

The Department of Labor recently reminded employers (see Bullet No. 14) that non-exempt employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked (if this was not a reminder for you: First, welcome to our newsletter! Second, you may want to schedule a call). But the DOL also reminded us that employers must pay non-exempt employees for hours worked if they know about it or have reason to believe that the work was performed. This stresses the importance of tracking your employees’ hours, especially those working remotely, in order to maintain compliance with the wage and hour laws. If your non-exempt employee is answering calls or emails while waiting for the kids at the bus stop, you could be on the hook.

While the minimum wage and overtime laws only apply to non-exempt employees, bewaaaaaaare of misclassification (see what we did there?). If you’ve been (trick-r’)treating a non-exempt worker as exempt, you’re probably not tracking hours and that could come back to haunt you (ok we’ll stop). If you have any concern over misclassification, it’s wise to review job duties, responsibilities, and compensation to better determine your risk.

While we’re talking about pay, what about paying for “extra” time employees now spend in the office because of COVID-19 safety measures?

If your employees are spending extra time at the office (waiting for single-person elevators, answering health questionnaires, getting their temperature taken, etc.) it’s probably a good idea to pay for that time. This approach of erring on the side of caution is good practice – it avoids a hit to employee morale and the risk of a wage and hour claim.

It’s almost election day!

Know your state’s voting leave laws!

In New York, employers are required to give their employees “sufficient time” outside of work hours to allow the employee to vote. “Sufficient time” means four consecutive hours between the start or end of the employee’s workday and the opening/closing of the polls. So, if the employee has four hours to vote, you’re in the clear. If not, they can take time off to vote and two of those hours must be paid. Employees are required to notify their employer at least two days before Election Day they they’ll need time off to vote. Employers must post a notice in the workplace (or email it to your remote employees) at least ten days before the election – so do this now! A copy of that notice can be found here.

New Jersey – sorry, but the state doesn’t currently have a law that (technically) requires employers to grant employees leave to vote. But, the beauty of democracy is that we can change what we don’t like. So, go out and vote!

We wish you all a Happy Halloween. If you have questions about these updates, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re here to help.

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