Effective This Summer – Landslide of New Protections for Domestic Workers in New Jersey

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On January 12, 2024, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act (S-723/A-822) (the “Act”) into law. The new law not only supports domestic workers’ rights and expands their legal protections, but also removes the exclusion of domestic workers from the Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) and the New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law (“NJWHL”).

Under the Act, a “domestic worker” means hourly and salaried employees (regardless of full-time or part-time status) who work in residence for the purpose of providing any of the following services:

  • Caring for a child
  • Serving as a companion or caretaker for a sick or elderly person, or a person with a disability
  • Housekeeping or house cleaning
  • Cooking or providing food or butler service
  • Parking cars
  • Cleaning laundry
  • Gardening
  • Personal organizing
  • Providing any other domestic service

Notably, employees who do not live in the personal residence are still covered under the Act. That being said, the Act explicitly states that individuals such as family members or legal guardians, pet-sitters, dogwalkers, or house-sitters are not considered “domestic workers” and, therefore, do not receive any protections under the new law. Further, individuals whose primary work involves household repair or maintenance (i.e., roofers, painters, masons, or plumbers) are also excluded from the law. The Act does not apply to independent contractors who provide domestic services.

The rights established for domestic workers include:

  • New anti-discrimination protections, anti-harassment rights, health and safety protections, and privacy rights;
  • Requirement that a written contract be entered into that documents hours, wages, and duties;
  • Mandatory rest and meal breaks;
  • Limitations on work hours;
  • Minimum wage requirements;
  • Advanced notice of termination and other protections; and
  • A notice requirement to provide domestic workers with information about their rights under the Act.

Once the law takes effect in July 2024, New Jersey will become the eleventh state in the nation to have a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, joining the likes of New York, California, Massachusetts, and Virginia. In the meantime, New Jerseyans who employ individuals to perform domestic services in their homes should understand the new requirements and begin planning to comply with same. Most notably, penalties for violations of the law will include fines issued by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which may range between $975 and $13,653 dollars, with half of those fines to be paid directly to the domestic workers.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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