New Jersey Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights: Important Changes in the Business of Caretaking

On January 12, 2024, New Jersey enacted the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. This new law creates additional rights and protections for domestic workers, as they are now protected under the State Wage and Hour Law and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The new law goes into effect on July 11, 2024; employers must be in compliance by that date or face penalties.

WHO IS COVERED BY THE LAW?

The law applies to a broad range of domestic workers, including nannies, housekeepers and caretakers. It refers to full-time, part-time, salaried and hourly workers. The new law defines domestic workers as individuals who:

  1. Work for one or more employers; and
  2. Work in a residence for the purposes of providing any of the following services:
  • Caring for a child
  • Serving as a companion or caretaker for a sick, convalescing, or elderly person or a person with a disability
  • Housekeeping or house cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Providing food or butler service
  • Parking cars
  • Cleaning laundry
  • Gardening
  • Personal organizing
  • Any other domestic service purpose

WORKERS EXCLUDED FROM THE LAW:

The law also carves out certain workers who do not fall under the new law, including:

  • Family members, whether related by blood, marriage or adoption
  • House sitters, pet sitters and dog walkers
  • Anyone running a business out of their home
  • Repair or maintenance workers
  • New Jersey state and federal employees
  • An individual established as a kinship legal guardian, as defined by section 2 of P.L.2001, c.250 (C.3B:12A-2), of a child who lives in the residence, or an individual who participates in the Kinship Navigator Program, as authorized by the Department of Children and Families, as a caregiver of a child who lives in the residence and receives services provided by a kinship navigator service provider.

MY PARENT HAS A CARETAKER. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

If you employ any individual who is considered a Domestic Worker under the law, you are now required to do the following:

  1. Notify workers of their rights under this law.
  2. Provide workers with a written agreement that includes the worker’s duties, hourly wages and other terms of employment.
  3. Provide workers with a thirty (30) minute meal break if they work at least a five (5) hour shift.
  4. Give workers a ten (10) minute break for every four (4) hours of work.
  5. Give a four (4) week notice of termination for workers who live at their employer’s home and a two (2) week notice of termination for other workers.
  6. Provide an unpaid day off to a worker who lives in the home and works for six (6) consecutive days.
  7. Employers may not retaliate against workers for filing harassment, discrimination, or wage complaints with the NJ Department of Labor.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T COMPLY WITH THE NEW LAW?

If you employ a domestic worker, you want to be in compliance with the law. Individuals who believe they have been wronged can either complain to the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) or file a lawsuit. The NJDOL can impose fines and penalties, and secure remedies like back pay for violations.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights makes many changes in the obligations New Jersey employers have to domestic workers. Employers that employ any domestic worker in the state are strongly encouraged to consult with labor and employment counsel to review policies and procedures to minimize any potential liability.

HDRBB’s Elder Law and Employment attorneys understand this new law and are here to answer your questions and provide guidance. Please contact Heather Adelman or Allison Busch to make sure you are prepared for and comply with these important changes.

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