Labor and Employment Law Overview: New Jersey

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • A New Jersey employer is prohibited from discriminating and retaliating against employees based on a variety of protected categories. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • New Jersey requires informed consent for genetic testing and prohibits most employers from asking criminal history questions on job applications and from requiring an applicant to take a lie detector test. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In New Jersey, there are many requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • New Jersey has a number of laws that relate to pay and benefits, including health care continuation, paydays, pay statements, wage deductions, temporary disability benefits and family leave insurance. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under New Jersey law, employees are entitled to a number of leaves, including family leave, military leave, jury duty leave, voting leaving, emergency responder leave and domestic violence leave. See Attendance and Leave.
  • New Jersey prohibits smoking in all indoor public places or workplaces. See Health and Safety.
  • New Jersey employers must be aware of final paycheck obligations and plant closing/ mass layoff notification requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in New Jersey

New Jersey is generally considered an employee-friendly state.

Select New Jersey employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer also must comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key New Jersey requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD or LAD) prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of the following:

  • Race;
  • Creed;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Age;
  • Ancestry;
  • Nationality;
  • Marital, domestic partnership or civil union status;
  • Sex;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Gender identity or expression;
  • Disability;
  • Liability for military service;
  • Affectional or sexual orientation;
  • Atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait; and
  • Genetic information (including the refusal to submit to genetic testing).

The LAD also prohibits retaliation against an employee for:

  • Filing a discrimination complaint;
  • Participating or testifying in any proceedings; or
  • Opposing any acts forbidden under the LAD.

The LAD applies to all public and private employers, regardless of size.

Equal Pay

The New Jersey Equal Pay Act (NJEPA) prohibits an employer from discriminating in any way in the rate or method of payment of wages to any employee because of his or her sex.

Whistleblower Protection

New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act prohibits retaliation against an employee who:

  • Blows the whistle, or who threatens to do so, with regard to improper, deceptive, harmful or illegal conduct by his or her employer, or conduct that relates to improper patient care by a health care provider;
  • Provides information to or testifies in a government agency hearing or investigation; or
  • Objects to or refuses to participate in any activity, policy or practice that the employee reasonably believes:
    • Is a violation of law;
    • Is harmful or deceptive; or
    • Relates to improper patient care by a health care provider.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in New Jersey can be found in the New Jersey Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): New Jersey, EEO - Discrimination: New Jersey, EEO - Harassment: New Jersey, EEO - Retaliation: New Jersey, Employee Discipline: New Jersey, New Jersey Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Jersey? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key New Jersey requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Ban the Box Law

New Jersey's Opportunity to Compete Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from making any oral or written inquiry about an applicant's criminal record during the initial employment application process, which ends when the employer has conducted a first interview. This measure is known as a "ban the box" law.

In addition, the Act prohibits a covered employer from publishing a job advertisement stating that the employer will not consider applicants who have been arrested or convicted of one or more crimes.

Limited exceptions are provided for positions in law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary or emergency management.

Lie Detector Tests

New Jersey generally prohibits polygraph, or lie detector, testing of applicants. However, under limited circumstances, an employer that is authorized to manufacture, distribute or dispense legal controlled dangerous substances may require lie detector testing of applicants.

Genetic Testing

The Genetic Privacy Act requires that an employer obtain the informed consent of prospective employees before conducting any genetic testing or retaining or disclosing genetic information. In addition, an employer may not discriminate against any individual for refusing to undergo genetic testing or for refusing to make available the results of a genetic test.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices can be found in the Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: New Jersey, Preemployment Screening and Testing: New Jersey and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Jersey? Federal requirements can be found in Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: Federal and Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key New Jersey requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

New Jersey's statutory minimum wage is $8.38 per hour. Certain employees are exempt from the minimum wage law, and a separate minimum wage rate exists for some employees (e.g., tipped employees).

Overtime

Nonexempt employees generally must be paid overtime at the rate of one and one-half times the employee's regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any workweek.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in New Jersey restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

New Jersey has generally adopted the federal standards, but also has additional standards.

Minors who are 16 or 17 years of age are not allowed to operate or assist in the operation of dangerous machinery, including, but not limited to:

  • Punch presses or stamping machines;
  • Guillotine shears and cutting machines;
  • Grinding, abrasive, polishing or buffing machines;
  • Circular and band saws; and
  • Power-driven woodworking machinery.

Additionally, minors who are 16 or 17 years of age may not perform hazardous job duties, including, but not limited to:

  • Setting up, repairing or cleaning circular or band saws, guillotine shears and shearing machines;
  • Oiling or cleaning moving machinery;
  • Operating or repairing elevators;
  • Operating, loading or transporting merchandise on a freight elevator; and
  • Transporting payroll cash or checks outside of the employer's premises.

Minors who are 16 or 17 years old are also not allowed to work "in, about or in connection with" the following (among others):

  • Ore reduction works, smelters, hot rolling mills, furnaces, foundries, forging shops and the like;
  • Dangerous or poisonous acids or dyes;
  • The manufacture or packing of paints, colors, white lead or red lead;
  • The manufacture, transportation or use of explosives;
  • Corrosive materials and pesticides;
  • Steam boilers with a pressure in excess of 15 pounds;
  • Fabrication or assembly of ships;
  • Highly flammable substances, excepting pumping gasoline at a service station;
  • Slaughtering and meatpacking, rendering and meat-processing establishments;
  • Most construction and road work; and
  • Certain agricultural machinery.

Minors who are 16- or 17-years-old are additionally restricted from working in certain locations, including, but not limited to, where they may be exposed to toxic and hazardous substances, carcinogenic or radioactive substance, or infectious diseases.

Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in additional occupations, on top of the restrictions that apply to minors who are 16 or 17 years old.

Generally, minors under 18 years of age may not work more than six consecutive days in any one week or more than 40 hours in any one week.

Minors between 16 and 18 years of age may work before 6:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m. when school is not in session if they have written permission from their parents or legal guardian. They may work in a seasonal amusement or restaurant occupation after 11:00 p.m. and following 12:01 a.m. of the next day under certain circumstances.

Minors under 16 years of age may not work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. of any day. However, they may work in a restaurant, supermarket or other retail establishment until 9 p.m. from the last day of the school year until Labor Day if they have written permission from a parent or legal guardian.

Minors under the age of 18 must be given a 30-minute meal period after five consecutive hours of work.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional Information on wage and hour practices in New Jersey can be found in the New Jersey Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: New Jersey, Overtime: New Jersey, Hours Worked: New Jersey, Child Labor: New Jersey and New Jersey Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key New Jersey requirements impacting pay and benefits include:

Health Care Continuation

New Jersey's health care continuation law generally mirrors federal COBRA with regard to qualifying events, timelines and premium amounts. However, the New Jersey law applies to employers with between two and 50 employees. Therefore, New Jersey employers with between 20 and 50 employees must comply with both state and federal law.

New Jersey law differs from federal law in a number of ways, including:

  • Covering domestic partners and civil union partners;
  • Requiring coverage for medical plans only (and not dental and/or vision plans);
  • Not requiring continuation coverage for a former employee's spouse when the employee becomes eligible for Medicare;
  • Requiring continuation coverage to be elected within 30 days; and
  • Requiring the initial premium to be paid within 30 days of the election for continuation coverage.

Paydays

Nonexempt employees must receive their full wages due at least semimonthly, on regular paydays designated in advance.

Exempt employees must paid in full at least once each calendar month on a regularly established schedule.

If a regular payday falls on a day when the business is closed, employees must be paid on the immediately preceding workday, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise.

Pay Statements

All New Jersey employers must furnish each employee with a statement of deductions made from his or her wages for each pay period in which deductions are made.

Wage Deductions

Deductions that may be made from employees' wages include but are not limited to:

  • Amounts authorized by state or federal law;
  • Payments to correct payroll errors;
  • Contributions or payments authorized either in writing by the employee or under a collective bargaining agreement for the following reasons:
    • Employee welfare, insurance, hospitalization, medical and/or surgical  profit-sharing and company-operated thrift plans;
    • Plans establishing individual retirement annuities on a group or individual basis;
    • Individual retirement accounts at any state or federal bank, savings bank or savings and loan association; and
    • Payments into an employee's personal savings account or a bank for Christmas, vacation or other savings funds; and
  • Deductions for:
    • Purchase of company products or employer loans in accordance with a periodic payment schedule contained in the original purchase or loan agreement;
    • Safety equipment;
    • Contributions for organized and generally recognized charities;
    • Rental or cleaning of work clothing or uniforms; and
    • Labor union dues and fees.

Temporary Disability Insurance

All employers subject to the state unemployment insurance law are required to provide temporary disability benefits (TDB) to an employee who sustains a nonwork-related sickness or injury that results in the employee's inability to perform his or her regular job duties. TDB benefits are paid for by a mandatory payroll tax to which both the employer and employee contribute.

Employees may receive up to 26 weeks of TDB. The weekly benefit amount is two-thirds of the employee's average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by the state each year.

Family Leave Insurance

All employees of covered employers (i.e., private and governmental employers subject to the state unemployment insurance law) are eligible for up to six weeks of family leave insurance (FLI) benefits to bond with a newborn child or a newly adopted child or to care for an ill family member.  

FLI is similar to temporary disability benefits (TDB). However, unlike TDB, FLI is paid for by a mandatory payroll tax on employees only, and an employer may require an employee to use up to two weeks of paid leave to offset the weekly FLI benefit.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in New Jersey can be found in the New Jersey Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Insurance and Disability Benefits: New Jersey, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): New Jersey, Payment of Wages: New Jersey, New Jersey Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Jersey? Federal requirements can be found in Insurance and Disability Benefits: Federal, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Key New Jersey requirements impacting attendance and leave include:

New Jersey Family Leave Act

The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to allow eligible employees to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to 12 weeks in a 24-month period for the following reasons:

  • The birth or adoption of a child; or
  • To care for a family member (i.e., child, parent, spouse or civil union partner) with a serious health condition.

Other Leave Laws Affecting New Jersey Employers

In addition to the NJFLA, a New Jersey employer is also required to comply with additional leave laws including:

  • Military leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Voting leave;
  • Emergency Responders Employment Protection Act; and
  • New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (covering employers with 25 or more employees).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in New Jersey can be found in the New Jersey Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: New Jersey, Jury Duty: New Jersey, USERRA: New Jersey, Other Leaves: New Jersey, New Jersey Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Jersey? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act prohibits smoking, including e-cigarettes, in all indoor public places or workplaces.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in New Jersey can be found in the New Jersey Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: New Jersey, New Jersey Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Jersey?. Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key New Jersey requirements impacting organizational exit include:

Final Paycheck

If an employee is terminated, suspended as a result of a labor dispute or laid off, or if an employee resigns or leaves employment for any reason, the employer must pay the employee all wages due by the regular payday for the pay period in which the termination, suspension or cessation of employment took place.

An employer has an additional 10 days to pay if an employee is suspended as a result of a labor dispute involving employees who make up the payroll.

Plant Closing/Mass Layoff Notification

Under the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act, an employer that has been in business for longer than three years and that employs 100 or more full-time employees must provide at least 60 days' notice or as much notice as is required by federal WARN legislation, whichever is longer, under the following circumstances:

  • A transfer or termination of operations during any continuous 30-day period that results in the termination of 50 or more full-time employees;
  • A mass layoff that results in the termination of 500 or more full-time employees during any 30-day period; and
  • A mass layoff that results in the termination of 50 or more full-time employees representing at least one-third of the full-time employees at the establishment during any 30-day period.

Notice must be provided to:

  • Each employee to be terminated and the union or collective bargaining agent, if applicable;
  • The chief elected official of the municipality; and
  • The Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

The law requires an employer to provide one week of severance pay for every year of service to an employee who does not receive proper notification.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in New Jersey can be found in Payment of Wages: New Jersey, Involuntary Terminations: New Jersey, and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Jersey? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary Terminations: Federal.