Better Balance Needed on Employment Laws

Labor laws are designed to benefit both employers and employees alike.

These laws should strike a balance between providing flexibility for employers to manage their workforce according to business needs and ensuring certain protections for employees. Guidelines for employee hiring, retention, termination, and leave policies all contribute to keeping labor laws in equilibrium.

Balanced labor laws encourage a sense of security among employees while fostering a successful business environment. However, over the past two years, the Legislature has advanced legislation that has swung the pendulum too far and upended the balance that sound labor laws are designed to provide.

For example, in August 2023, the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” law took effect, placing stringent new obligations on staffing companies and the third-party clients who utilize their services, ultimately making it more costly and burdensome to hire temporary workers.

Under this law, temporary workers are entitled to the same pay as their permanent counterparts, detailed notices and pay stubs about each job, four hours of payment for last-minute job cancellations, and limited deductions for meals and transportation.

Ironically, as this column goes to press, the Legislature is also advancing legislation that will hurt small employers and likely increase their need for temporary workers at a time when the rules have been changed to make it more costly and burdensome to hire temps.

The latest legislation would require even small employers with as few as five workers to keep positions open for employees taking a 12-week family leave of absence. Previously, this only applied to larger employers with 30 or more workers, which due to their size were better able to temporarily shift the responsibilities of absent employees among other workers, were covered by the reinstatement requirement.

Lowering the worker threshold from 30 to five means small employers would have higher labor costs caused by training and paying replacement workers. What’s more, this change would come on top of the increased costs associated with hiring temporary workers under the 2023 law.

New Jersey continues to fall short on affordability for employers. Businesses already face workforce shortages across industries. Legislation that creates additional burdens by dictating that mom-and-pop businesses retain employees after a three-month leave of absence makes a difficult situation worse.

Instead of driving up the cost of doing business and undermining New Jersey’s regional competitiveness, we need the Legislature to strike a better balance on labor laws. We can help employees without hurting their employers.

Related Articles: