Five important pieces of legislation that could affect your business either will go into effect or may be decided by Governor Christie before we ring in 2013.  These bills range from social networking legislation to minimum wage increases to workplace support for victims of domestic violence. 

On October 15, 2012, the New Jersey Assembly introduced a bill that would require employers with five (5) or more employees to allow their employees to inspect and copy their personnel records up to two (2) times per year within seven (7) days of such a request.  The bill would also allow an employee to submit an explanation of information they disagree with in the file, limit the documents employers can disclose to third-parties, and provide civil penalties for non-compliance.  Governor Christie has not yet signed the bill. 

On November 19, 2012, the New Jersey Assembly reviewed a bill that would prohibit employers from asking new employees, or requiring current employees, to disclose their username names and/or passwords to social networking sites.  The bill should be before Governor Christie in the coming weeks. 

On December 3, 2012, after approval by both the Senate and the Assembly, a bill was sent to Governor Christie that would increase New Jersey’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour.  The new rate would be effective March 1, 2013.  The bill also calls for automatic increases in the minimum wage that would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.  Governor Christie has not yet signed this bill either. 

Currently, there are also bills before the New Jersey State Assembly and the New Jersey Senate entitled the “New Jersey Security and Financial Employment Act” or the “NJ SAFE Act”, which would require employers with twenty-five (25) or more employees to provide twenty (20) days of unpaid leave to employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault within one year of the domestic violence or sexual assault.

Lastly, on or about January 7, 2013, as we previously posted, a new law requiring employers to post and distribute a notice to employees of their right to be free from gender-based pay discrimination in the workplace, will be published in the New Jersey Register.  The notice will undergo a comment period before being officially adopted by the New Jersey Department of Labor.  Once the notice is officially adopted by the New Jersey Department of Labor, employers’ posting and distribution obligations will be triggered.

Employers should check this blog often for updates on these bills, so as to be fully informed of their obligations in 2013.