One of Governor Murphy’s key electoral platforms during his gubernatorial campaign was his goal to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage. That electoral promise became a reality just a few short weeks ago. On February 4, 2019, Governor Murphy officially signed into law the New Jersey Minimum Wage Bill. The law will ultimately increase the minimum wage rate in New Jersey from $8.85 (currently) to at least $15.00 by 2024. The wage increase progression will be as follows:
- At least $10/hour by July 1st, 2019
- At least $11/hour by January 1st, 2020
- At least $12/hour by January 1st, 2021
- At least $13/hour by January 1st, 2022
- At least $14/hour by January 1st, 2023
- At least $15/hour by January 1st, 2024
Most notably, the above progression and schedule does not apply to very small businesses, defined as employers with five or fewer employees. Such employers will not have to pay $15.00 an hour to their employees until 2026. Further, the law includes a provision allowing employers to take a “tip credit” against their minimum wage obligations up to a certain level but ultimately the hourly rate earned by the employee must still reach whatever the then mandated minimum wage level is at that time. Obviously, the first compliance date of which employers must be immediately aware is July 1. Prior to that time, employers must take the necessary internal steps of ensuring that all employees are receiving this upgraded minimum wage by that required date. Thereafter, employers will then need to ready themselves for the next increase happening approximately six (6) months later raising the minimum wage again. With all the graduated changes under the law, employers would be wise to calendar these important dates and proactively ensure that your workplace complies with these new evolving minimum wage requirements.
Ralph R. Smith, 3rd is Co-Chair of the Employment and Labor Practice Group. He practices in employment litigation and preventative employment practices, including counseling employers on the creation of employment policies, non-compete and trade secret agreements, and training employers to avoid employment-related litigation. He represents both companies and individuals in related complex commercial litigation before federal states courts and administrative agencies in labor and employment cases including race, gender, age, national origin, disability and workplace harassment and discrimination matters, wage-and-hour disputes, restrictive covenants, grievances, arbitration, drug testing, and employment related contract issues.