Stronger Protections for Certain “Service Employees” in New Jersey

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law stronger protections for “service employees” impacted by changing ownership.  This law took effect on the 22nd of October but is narrowly tailored to certain specific occupations and certain specific types of employment locations.  It is designed to give the employees advance notice of a termination event and preserve their employment for a two month period.

 As defined by the law, a “service employee” is an individual working at a “covered location,” also defined by the law, who has worked there at least 60 days, is not a manager or professional employee, and works at least 16 hours a week. To fit within the “service employee” definition, employees must also be engaged in the following occupations: (i) building or property care and/or maintenance; (ii) passenger-related security services, cargo-related and ramp services, in-terminal and passenger handling and cleaning services at an airport; and (iii) food preparation services at primary or secondary schools or a tertiary educational institution.

The employment locations, or “covered locations,” subject to this law include multi-family residential buildings with more than 50 units; commercial centers, complexes or buildings of more than $100,000 square fee; primary and secondary schools or tertiary educational institutions; cultural centers or complexes; industrial sites or pharmaceutical labs; airport and train stations; certain hospitals; state courts; and distribution centers.

Qualifying service employees working at these types of employment locations are now legally entitled to 60 days advanced notice of the impending termination of a service contract or change of ownership.  Subject to certain exceptions, the successor employer must give affected service employees offers of employment and retain the employe at the location for 60 days or until the service contract is terminated, whichever is earlier.  Service employees cannot be terminated during the 60-day transition period without just cause.

If you are an employer impacted by any of the above new laws, be sure to consult with your legal counsel and take steps to make sure your company practices and policies are in compliance.