NJBIA recently hosted a virtual Employment and Labor Policy Committee meeting to discuss new developments regarding labor and employment issues.
The event was attended by David Bander, executive director of the Policy Office at the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development; Assemblyman William Sampson (D-31); Brian Crain, compliance assistance specialist at the USDOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration; and Alex Solomon, research associate at the Senate Republican Office.
During an update on NJDOLWD’s policy agenda, Bander said unemployment claims have dropped in volume, but that the department is still working on resolving issues for claimants. The Department, he said, is keen on working to modernize the unemployment system and streamline the application process.
Bander gave an update on the Department’s efforts to quell worker misclassification following the passage of a package of bills regarding misclassification last summer. He said the Department is focused on areas with high rates of violations, such as beauty salons, construction and service industries. Therefore, he emphasized that businesses within those industries should be cognizant of wage-and-hour regulations and how they have changed over the past four years.
Sampson detailed his priorities for his first term in the Legislature and as a member of the Assembly Labor Committee. He explained that he wants to understand businesses to serve his constituents and underserved communities. He emphasized the importance of education and workforce development for his constituents. He also wants to give a voice to the urban areas he represents in Jersey City and Bayonne and help bolster the Jersey City school system.
Crain gave a presentation on compliance assistance services provided by OSHA to employers. He explained that workplace injuries negatively affect businesses and families, and outlined the free resources available through OSHA’s website, as well as the ability for employers to request on-site reviews to mitigate risks and ensure a safer workplace for their employees.
Solomon, who staffs the Senate Labor Committee for the Senate Republican Office, explained a few of the labor priorities of the Republican caucus. The first is the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and the upcoming tax increase of another $300 million that employers will face in July. Solomon explained that workforce shortages and getting employees back into the labor force is also a top priority of Republicans in the legislature
NJBIA Director of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey gave an overall update regarding priority legislation. She noted bill S-2389 (Singleton), which requires many covered employers, including warehouses, healthcare facilities, pharmaceutical labs, among others, to retain their service employees for 90 days following a change in ownership of their service contracts.
Under the bill, service employees include janitorial, maintenance, and front desk staff, among others. Bailey mentioned discussion on the federal level of re-examining the salary level test for non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.