While most employers in the U.S. are required to comply with the minimum wage and salary requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers located in states with higher minimum wages must instead comply with the more generous state laws instead of the federal minimum wage law. Under federal law, employers must pay a minimum wage of at least $7.25 per hour, which has not been raised since 2009.
However, numerous states, including New Jersey, have established higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage. New Jersey is set to increase the minimum wage and minimum salary once again in 2023. Here’s what you should know from the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler.
Current State Minimum Wage in New Jersey
Currently, the state minimum wage in New Jersey is $13 per hour. In 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that called for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. This law calls for the state’s minimum wage to be increased to $15 per hour by 2024 for most employees. Under the law, the state was required to raise the minimum wage by $1 per hour each year except in years in which the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased to such an extent that a higher increase is warranted. Since that occurred in 2022, the new state minimum wage in 2023 will also be higher.
New State Minimum Wage and Minimum Salary Beginning Jan. 1, 2023
On Jan. 1, 2023, most statutory employees who are paid the minimum wage will receive an increase to $14.13 per hour, according to the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. This increase will be $1.13 more than the state’s minimum wage in 2022. The increase is more than $1 per hour because of significant increases in the CPI for urban and clerical workers during 2022.
This increase equates to a weekly minimum wage for someone working 40 hours per week of $562.40. In terms of the annual minimum earnings for someone working 40 hours per week at minimum wage throughout the year, most minimum wage earners can expect to receive a minimum of $29,340.20.
Minimum Wages for Workers Who Don’t Receive the General State Minimum Wage
While most workers are entitled to the state’s minimum wage, some workers are not. However, employees who are excluded from the state’s minimum wage and have different minimum wage structures will also see increases.
Seasonal employees and those who work for small employers will receive an increased minimum wage from $11.90 per hour in 2022 to $12.93 per hour beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. This is an increase of $1.03.
Agricultural workers who work for a regular hourly rate or on a piece rate will receive an increase to $12.01 in their minimum wage beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. This is an increase from $11.05 in 2022. This is an increase of 96 cents per hour.
Tipped workers who earn tips on top of the required minimum wage will receive an increase in their tipped wage to $5.26 per hour beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. This will be an increase from the current minimum tipped wage of $5.13 per hour. Employers that pay tipped wages will be allowed to claim tip credits of $8.87 per hour, which is $1 more than the $7.87 they can claim in 2022.
What Happens if an Employer Fails to Pay the Increased Minimum Wage?
The New Jersey Legislature passed the Wage Theft Act in 2019. This law provides stiff penalties for employers that fail to pay the state’s mandatory minimum wages. Under this law, employers must maintain records of the wages they have paid to their employees that include the following information:
- The employee’s name, address, and birthdate if younger than 18
- Total number of hours the employee worked per day and workweek
- How much the employee earned per hour and the gross to net totals with itemized deductions
- The total tips a tipped employee received during a workweek
- Records about an employee who received lodging and/or food from the employer
Employers must keep these records for each employee for at least six years. The Wage Theft Act provides a statute of limitations for an employee to file a wage and hour complaint of six years.
The law also establishes harsh penalties for employers who fail to pay the state’s minimum wage. If an employer has failed to do so, an employee can recover treble damages in addition to the wages they are owed. An employer can also face penalties for failing to keep and produce the required records or to provide notice to the employees of their rights under the state’s wage and hour laws.
If your employer fails to pay the increased minimum wage to you after it increases on Jan. 1, 2023, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer for help with recovering the wages you are owed.
Contact Swartz Swidler
New Jersey’s minimum wage laws are meant to ensure that people receive the compensation to which they should be entitled and earn a livable wage. If your employer fails to pay you at least the state’s minimum wage, you have a right to file a wage and hour claim to recover the wages you are owed plus additional damages. To learn more, call Swartz Swidler for a free consultation at (856) 685-7420.