In late August 2016, the Governor of New Jersey vetoed a minimum wage bill passed by the state legislature in June. The bill, A15/S15, would have increased the minimum wage in this state to $10.10 per hour at the beginning of next year, with additional annual increases for at least three years. Failing to keep pace with the rising cost of living is a major criticism of minimum wage laws around the country. Many workers in New Jersey and throughout the country must already go to court to assert their rights against employers who do not pay them the minimum amount required by law. The governor cited the alleged impact of a minimum wage increase on New Jersey businesses, claiming that it would result in fewer jobs. The status quo, however, still leaves people unable to meet basic needs with a paycheck from a full-time job.
State minimum wage regulations set the minimum wage at the greatest of three amounts:
(1) the amount set by state law, which was most recently set at $7.15 per hour as of October 1, 2006, N.J. Rev. Stat. § 34:11-56a4;
(2) the amount set by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which has been $7.25 per hour since July 24, 2010, 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1)(C); or
(3) $8.38 per hour, N.J.A.C. § 12:56-3.1.
The minimum wage law does not apply to certain categories of workers, including full-time students working for their school, outside salespeople, car salespeople, part-time child care workers based in the child’s home, and minors under the age of 18. N.J.A.C. § 12:56-3.2.
The regulation setting the state minimum wage at $8.38 per hour took effect on January 1, 2015. It directs the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) to revise this amount annually, based on the percentage increase over the previous year, if any, in the consumer price index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W), a figure developed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The current state minimum wage law was set by New Jersey voters in 2013. A public question on the ballot that November asked if the minimum wage should be the greater of the amount established by existing state law or $8.25 per hour, with annual cost-of-living increases. Voters approved the question, with 61 percent voting in favor and 39 percent voting against.
The New Jersey Assembly passed A15 in May 2016, and the Senate followed in June. The bill would have amended the state minimum wage law cited above, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour on January 1, 2017. Starting on January 1, 2018 and continuing on the first of each year until 2021, the minimum wage would increase by the greater of either $1.25 per hour or the increase in CPI-W for the previous year plus $1.00.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill in late August, stating that it would have a negative impact on business and therefore lead to a loss in jobs. Legislators have stated that they will continue to push for a minimum wage increase, possibly through another ballot question.
If you need to speak to a wage law attorney regarding a matter in New Jersey or New York, contact the Resnick Law Group online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997.
More Blog Posts:
Federal Minimum Wage Law Protects Workers in Public Assistance Programs, According to New York’s Highest Court, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, July 27, 2016
Lawsuit Against New Jersey Convenience Store Franchisee Claims Minimum Wage, Overtime Violations, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, May 9, 2016
Proposed Jersey City Ordinance Would Mandate Minimum Work Week for Certain Employees, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, June 20, 2016
Photo credit: Self (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.