A Leniency Program for New Jersey Small Businesses

It often feels like business owners must contend with a constant stream of new governmental rules and regulations.  However, under A-4753/S-3208, signed into law in March and taking effect just this week, the State of New Jersey is attempting to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses.  Small businesses in New Jersey, defined as businesses having a maximum of 50 full-time employees or the equivalent thereof, now may have a 60 calendar day “cure” period to address and resolve first-time violations in order to avoid paying monetary fines or civil penalties.  In effect, this new legislation grants state agencies the authority to suspend the enforcement of penalties on select first-time violations at their discretion to allow time for the small business to address the source of the penalty.

There are limitations to when the State can offer this “cure” period.  Leniency is not available when a businesses’ violation results in a significant adverse impact on public safety or welfare, poses a risk to the environment, or puts fellow employees’ income or employment benefits in jeopardy.

Further, there are seven exceptions carved into the law where leniency is not available.  These exceptions are: (1) criminal violations; (2) intentional violations; (3) violations that are grounds for the suspension or revocation of the owner’s authority to operate the business; (4) violations that are grounds for the business to be disqualified from bidding for state contracts; (5) violations of any state employment or labor-related law; (6) violations that are grounds for the issuance of a stop-work order; and (7) violations of federal law that require the State to impose a penalty.

Failure to address the violation during the 60 day “cure” period will result in assessment of the applicable fines and penalties available under law.  If you have been notified of a first-time violation, or you believe that a first-time violation may be eligible for a cure, you may contact the agency that issued the violation.

Employers are encouraged to visit https://business.nj.gov/recent/leniency-may-be-available-for-first-time-violators-of-some-rules-regulations for more information concerning this new legislation.