Employers in the Garden State need to be aware that on July 24, 2009 the New Jersey minimum wage will increase by 10 cents, from $7.15 to $7.25 per hour.
Many employers question the timing of this change in the midst of the worst recession in 60 years. However, under state statute, the New Jersey minimum wage cannot be lower than the federal minimum wage.
The New Jersey minimum wage law covers smaller employers in the state. Under state law, the New Jersey minimum wage matches the federal minimum wage, which increases from $6.55 to $7.25 on July 24, 2009, a raise of 70 cents per hour.
On that same date, the New Jersey state minimum wage will increase to $7.25 per hour, too. Employers across the state must update their state and federal minimum wage posters before that date.
At present, there is no federal minimum wage increase scheduled for 2010. The Division of Wage and Hour Compliance of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development enforces the state minimum wage laws.
New Jersey employers not covered by the state minimum wage (more…)
Due to violations in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New Jersey overtime laws, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will pay 86,680 employees over $33 million in back wages. This money is due as a result of calculation errors when computing overtime pay. Wal-Mart will pay the overdue wages, along with interest, for the time period dating from February 1, 2002 through January 19, 2007.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours during a one-week time span. This overtime should be calculated at the rate of 1.5 times the normal hourly rate received by employees. This normal hourly rate includes not only the base rate, but also incentives and premiums that the employee may regularly receive.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards, Victoria A. Lipnic, explains, “This settlement provides $33 million in back wages, plus interest, to Wal-Mart workers, and the company has taken corrective action to prevent this from happening again.”
The problem arose when Wal-Mart didn’t calculate overtime correctly. Overtime is based on the average compensation received by employees. For instance, if an employee’s base rate is $6.00 per hour but normally this employee earns $7.00 due to incentives and premiums, overtime must be based on the $7.00 per hour, not the $6.00 per hour. Wal-Mart did not take the premiums and incentives into consideration when performing their overtime calculations.
The agreement was finalized when the Labor Department filed a complaint. This complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court. At the heart of the complaint is the allegation that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. violated Fair Labor Standards Act provisions pertaining to overtime. A consent judgment also was filed. This judgment orders Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to pay employees the pay due them. In addition, the consent judgment enjoins Wal-Mart from further violations. The court quickly approved the consent judgment.
An organization the Garden State called the New Jersey Policy Perspective is pushing for changes to the New Jersey minimum wage law. This is after the New Jersey minimum wage increased from $5.15 per hour to $6.15 per hour in 2005, and then up to $7.15 per hour in 2006. The reason for the push, say the organizers, is because the state of New Jersey has the fourth highest cost of living in all of the United States. But in terms of the state minimum wage, New Jersey has the ninth highest minimum wage in there, and it is tied with a bunch of other states to boot. By the year 2010 comes, according to the New Jersey Policy Perspective’s figures, New Jersey, if it’s minimum wage stays at the level it’s currently at, will have then the 17th highest minimum wage in the country.
The New Jersey Policy Perspective people are not calling for a new law per se, or a big increase in the New Jersey minimum wage. Instead, the New Jersey Policy Perspective is in a push to get the New Jersey minimum wage tied to the inflation rate. There are already 10 other states in the Union that attach their minimum wages to the inflation gauge (can you name them?). And the New Jersey law has a built in provision that could give the state the chance to do just that without having to pass a new law, says the New Jersey Policy Perspective.
This provision in the New Jersey minimum wage law is that the new law has created a so called state Minimum Wage Advisory Commission. It is the job of this New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission to research and consider the New Jersey minimum wage every year, to make sure it is still adequately meeting the needs of the lowest paid workers in the state and not infringing upon employers too much.
The New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Board then has to make a report based on its analysis. It is with this report, says the New Jersey Policy Perspective, that the New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Board could recommend every year to have the minimum wage raised by the inflation rate.
Of course, in a couple of years, the state of New Jersey’s employers could be seeing a raise in the New Jersey minimum wage anyway. If all stays as is at the moment—with New Jersey’s minimum wage staying at $7.15 per hour—and we assume that the federal minimum wage increase is now a done deal—then by the year 2009, the federal minimum wage will become $7.25 per hour, and most New Jersey employers will be required to pay that higher wage rate to their lowest paid workers.
But in the very least, the New Jersey Policy Perspective people are suggesting that the New Jersey minimum wage could and should be raised to half of the average wage in the state. That would raise the New Jersey minimum wage to about $8.50 per hour, a more than one dollar raise in the rate. At the moment, according to the New Jersey Policy Perspective people, the New Jersey minimum wage represents about 40 percent of the average wage in the state.
What are the chances of the New Jersey Policy Perspective carrying out their plans for the New Jersey minimum wage? Because this is not a legislative issue at the moment, and the New Jersey Policy Perspective is not calling for a legislative change really, then the complete onus falls on the New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission. Meanwhile, the New Jersey Policy Perspective can continue to follow their First Amendment rights and voice their opinion.
The U.S. Labor Department has found the firm in violation of federal and New Jersey minimum wage laws. The action follows a two-year investigation that ended in 2006.
The firm, ABC Professional Tree Services, must pay $1,801,507 in back wages to 2,501 employees in 16 states. It was accused of violation of the minimum wage laws and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The probe began when investigators received a tip from an employee.
FLSA regulations require that employees receive no less than the minimum wage of $5.15 for the first 40 hours of the workweek, and time-and-a-half for any work in excess of that. Employers are also required to keep accurate payroll records.
The U.S. Labor Department and U.S. Attorneys from several states teamed up in 2006. The mission of the task force they formed is to probe and prosecute violations of labor laws in the Gulf Coast region. Their more specific concerns are crimes of employers in hurricane-affected regions, such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
“We are pleased,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, “that we were able to help these workers get the back pay they deserve.” She said the department would continue working to guarantee workers are being paid properly by their employers.
Besides paying back wages to its New Jersey employees. ABC is paying workers from Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, New York, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and New Jersey.
The firm cleans up after natural disasters, including hurricanes. Some of the workers it is paying back worked on cleanup following Hurricane Katrina. It also cleans up and trims and cuts trees around power lines for utility companies.
As I was saying, New Jersey’s minimum wage is already at a point higher than the federal minimum wage—at $7.15 per hour versus $5.15 per hour. This new minimum wage in Jersey went into effect on October 1, 2006. The new minimum wage was passed as an addendum to the already existent New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law.
This is the very same law, my loyal readers, that gives New Jersey employers their instructions on how to pay overtime to their employees, and how to hire and work with minors under the age of 18. The law also instructs the New Jersey employers out there how to pay or withhold wages, and when and how often they must pay their employers.
If you are an employer in the farm business, you might want to refresh your knowledge of the New Jersey minimum wage law there, because there are different rules for farm labor employees than for regular employees in the state. That is a pretty big deal, because they don’t call New Jersey the Garden State for nothing—there is a lot of farming going on in the middle of the state.
The New Jersey minimum wage law also goes into special rules for contractors and their employees, who must also have a registration to be engaged in any public works building projects, whether they be contractors or subcontractors. The registration is an annual thing, and requires contractors to pay a $300 fee for the year, or $500 for a fee for two years.
Employers in the apparel industry also have to file a special registration with the New Jersey Department of Labor, and that is if you are in the manufacturing or even contracting facets of the apparel industry. The New Jersey minimum wage is the same for these employers though.