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The latest effort by lawmakers to mandate employee retention for private business is “the most broad and troubling” as it removes more employers’ rights to make their own business decisions, NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey told an Assembly committee on Thursday.

Bill A-4682 requires employers to retain a wide range of service employees for 90 days after a change of ownership in their service contracts. The Assembly Labor Committee voted to release the bill, which follows the enactment of other recent laws mandating the retention of employees in both the hotel and healthcare industries.

“This unsettling trend adds to New Jersey’s reputation of being overly regulated and an unfriendly place to do business,” Bailey told the committee in written testimony. “The Legislature must seriously consider the need for these mandates and the harmful message they send to the business community. Employee retention and seniority systems in private businesses should not be dictated by statute. Employers have a right to determine who they hire and retain as they see fit in order to make necessary operational decisions.”

In addition to restricting an employer’s ability to make sound business decisions with their service contracts, Bailey said the bill also stands in direct conflict with at-will employment. Under the legislation, the large range of service workers include any non-managerial or professional employee who works 16 hours or more per week in connection with the care or maintenance of a building or property.

This includes, but is not limited to security, front desk, maintenance, grounds maintenance, stationary fireman, elevator operators, window cleaners and janitorial service staff. At airports, it includes passenger-related security services, cargo related and ramp services, in-terminal and passenger handling and cleaning services. In schools, it includes food service workers. Employers and facilities captured under this legislation include multi-family residential buildings with more than 50 units, commercial centers or office buildings that are more than 100,000 square feet, as well as primary, secondary schools or tertiary schools.

It includes cultural centers such as museums, convention centers, arenas, performance halls; industrial sites; pharmaceutical labs; airports; train stations; hospitals; nursing care facilities; senior care centers and other healthcare provider locations; state courts; and warehouse and distribution centers.

“Mandated employee retention may force businesses to maintain inadequate service for three months if they terminate a contract due to unsatisfactory work,” Bailey added. “This can have health and safety implications for businesses and the public that purchase their products or services.

“Additionally, this legislation may not pass legal muster as it would make successor employers bound to contract agreements that they did not agree to by requiring them to assume the employees of a former vendor during the 90-day period.”

To see Bailey’s written testimony, go here.