The New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act was signed into law in January. And with the rule–making process beginning in earnest during a pandemic, and the potential for severe monetary penalties for New Jersey-based call centers, NJBIA is calling for a consideration of the current climate.
In a letter sent to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development this week, NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas said it was troubling “that the proposed regulations seem to ignore the present health crisis.”
“The distraction and diversion of resources to development and implementation of systems and processes to implement the law should not be the current priority,” Buteas wrote. “Instead, providing seamless service while maintaining a safe operating environment should be the priority.”
Under the new law, New Jersey call centers that employ at least 50 full-time employees, or at least 50 workers who work 1,500 or more hours per week, must maintain staffing levels capable of handling at least 65% of the employer’s customer volume of electronic communications originating from New Jersey callers or locations – measured against the previous six–month period’s average monthly hours worked, assuming that was sufficient to meet the total volume of communications.
If a call center’s staffing level falls below the required minimums, the employer must immediately notify the state Labor Department.
Further, any employer that relocates a call center, or transfers one or more of its operations comprising at least 20% of the call center’s total volume of customer communications as measured against the previous 12–month average volume to a foreign country, must notify the state Labor Department 90 days before relocating the center or transferring operations.
The law imposes a civil penalty of up to $7,500 per day on an employer that fails to comply with either notification requirement.
Buteas contends that the challenge of meeting staffing requirements has grown greater during the pandemic, and the law’s requirements in a time of remote workforces, and the subsequent notification requirements, are too vague.
“Our members are concerned about the operational impact of these regulations absent clarification,” Buteas said. “Flexibility and immediate response allowed companies to continue seamless, safe operations during the pandemic.
“The regulations are ambiguous and ignore the new reality of the virtual workforce, as well as the operational challenges in providing vital goods and services, in particular those in the communications sector.”
To see Buteas’ full letter, click here.