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Equal pay and paid sick leave present employer challenges

This past spring was big for followers of progressive political philosophy. The governor signed into law several measures that all New Jersey employers need to heed. This post looks at them both with the goal of encouraging employers to act for the protection of business interests.

The first is the Equal Pay Act. Effective as of the first of July, this amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination aims to reduce wage disparity resulting from employment discrimination. Employers violating the law can be assessed significant fines for every occurrence.

The pay inequality the law seeks to remedy is that based not only on gender, but also stemming from alleged discrimination based on gender identity, race, religion, nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or disability.

There is a statute of limitations for bringing action. Notably, however, one of provision of the law effectively restarts the clock with the issuance of every paycheck in which disparity for "substantially similar work" occurs.

The second law of note is the Paid Sick Leave Act. It takes effect Oct. 29. Ahead of that, however, employer advocates are offering analyses for business planning purposes.

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • A requirement to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to nearly all workers except, those that are unionized, hospital workers paid on a per-diem basis or public workers already covered by sick leave benefits.
  • An accrual schedule, set by the employer, based on a period of 12 consecutive months of employment.
  • A requirement providing one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours an employee works.
  • Flexibility in application for employers that have existing paid time off policies, as long as they allow employees to claim pay for the reasons allowed in the act.

The bill also lays out rules for carrying over time and possible employer buyout strategies.

It's not possible to anticipate every source of possible employment dispute, but these two laws make planning essential. To meet that objective, consult with an experienced business law attorney.

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