Governor Murphy Signs New Laws to Protect New Jersey Workers
Aug 4, 2021 - News by Matthew R. Harris
Governor Murphy signed new laws that will crack down on worker misclassification in New Jersey and which will provide additional benefits for workers once in effect. Misclassification is the practice of illegally and improperly classifying employees as independent contractors, when they are, in fact, employees. This practice deprives workers of the right to earn minimum wage and overtime, workers’ compensation, unemployment, earned sick leave, family leave, temporary disability, and other benefits.
The four additional laws that build upon and expand the misclassification efforts are: A5890, A5892, A5891, and A1171. There is a notable focus on the expanded information sharing and inter-agency coordination to identify and combat misclassification of workers:
- A5890 creates a mechanism for the state to combat worker misclassification through litigation for alleged violations of any wage, benefit, or tax law, and provides additional penalties for the enforcement of stop-work orders, including the ability to assess a civil penalty in an amount the commissioner deems appropriate, the requirement for employers to pay employees for the first ten days of the stop-work order, and the ability of the state to sue on behalf of the employees for non-payment of such wages.
- A5892 facilitates additional information exchange between state entities to identify misclassification, including the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Fraud Deterrence, and the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.
- A5891 creates an Office of Strategic Enforcement, funded with one million dollars, to coordinate strategic enforcement of wage, benefit, and tax laws across state agencies.
- A1171 creates a public database of certified payroll information for all public works projects.
“Misclassifying workers as independent contractors just to get out of paying insurance premiums harms hard-working people who deserve the same benefits and protections as other company employees,” said an Assemblywoman, a sponsor of one of the laws.
Even if your employer does not follow this new law, and mislabels you as an independent contractor, the workers’ compensation laws in New Jersey may require your employer to provide workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured while working. This is true even if your employer has misclassified your job, as long as you can prove you are actually an employee.