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New Jersey Lawmakers Reach Deal to Increase State Minimum Wage to $15/Hour by 2024

On January 17, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and legislative leaders announced an agreement to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. Under the agreement, and presuming enactment, effective July 1, 2019, the state’s minimum wage for most workers will increase from $8.85 to $10 an hour; thereafter, it will increase $1 an hour every January 1 until reaching $15 on January 1, 2024.

For seasonal workers and employees of small businesses (i.e., five or fewer workers), the ramp-up to $15 an hour would extend to 2026. For farmworkers, the base minimum wage would increase incrementally to $12.50 by January 1, 2024. Then, a special committee would review to determine whether to raise the farmworkers’ minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The legislation would also grant tax credits to employers that hire employees with disabilities.

Upon enactment of the legislation, New Jersey will join New York, California, and Massachusetts, as well as several municipalities across the country, in having laws that incrementally increase the minimum wage to $15.

On a related note, on January 15, 2019, Democrats introduced federal legislation in the House of Representatives and Senate to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $15 an hour—again, incrementally over years. Passage, however, is doubtful.

What New Jersey Employers Should Do Now

  • Review wage rates for nonexempt employees (both non-union and unionized) to identify any workers whose wages would need to increase to meet the new minimum wage.
  • Consider conducting a comprehensive wage review to determine whether other wage rate adjustments will be needed to account for wage “compression.” For example, will the wages of employees who already earn over $10 an hour need to be increased?
  • Consider whether the minimum wage increase will result in increased labor costs requiring reductions in staffing or in employees’ scheduled hours; ensure that the implementation of any such actions is done in a nondiscriminatory way. 
  • Make sure that your payroll personnel or payroll service provider takes the appropriate actions to effectuate the minimum wage increase when the legislation becomes effective.
©2020 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 22


About this Author

Maxine Neuhauser, EpsteinBeckerGreen, Life Science, Employment, Health Care

MAXINE NEUHAUSER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment and Health Care and Life Sciences practices, in the Newark office of Epstein Becker Green. Her practice focuses on litigation and providing strategic advice and counsel to regional, national, and international corporations, in multiple areas of law, including labor and employment, intellectual property and non-competes, and health. Ms. Neuhauser has represented clients in numerous, diverse industries, including financial services, aviation, managed care, life sciences, and retail. She also represents...

Alkida Kacani, Epstein Becker Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

ALKIDA KACANI is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management and Litigation & Business Disputes practices, in the firm's Newark office. She concentrates her practice on employment and commercial litigation.

Ms. Kacani:

  • Represents clients in employment-related litigation on a broad array of matters, including claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, constructive discharge, and wage and hour litigation, concerning state and federal employment statutes

  • Counsels clients on implementing employment practices and procedures, such as employee handbooks and stand-alone policies; the accommodation of employee disabilities; hiring, disciplinary, and termination decisions; medical leaves of absence; and overtime, minimum wage, and classification issues

  • Litigates trade secret, non-compete, non-solicitation, raiding, and other restrictive covenant matters in various industries

  • Assists government agencies in the investigation and prosecution of trade secret theft matters

  • Represents businesses in various sectors in diverse and complex commercial litigation matters

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Kacani served as a law clerk to the Honorable Francine A. Schott of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Civil Part, Essex Vicinage.