Back to Work NJ bill advances

TRENTON – The Assembly Budget Committee released three more jobs-related bills today.

A3580: This bill establishes the “Back to Work NJ Program” to provide workplace training to eligible unemployment beneficiaries. It advanced 8-2 along party lines.

Under the bill, an eligible participant who is receiving unemployment benefits pursuant to the New Jersey “unemployment compensation law” is eligible to participate in the program and receive workplace training from an eligible employer for a maximum of 24 hours per week for up to six weeks.

The bill provides that eligible participants in the program may receive up to $50 per week to defray certain training-related costs.

Stefanie Riehl of the N.J. Business and Industry Association said despite good goals in the bill, NJBIA had to oppose it because of a level of risk employers may expose themselves to between definitions of “trainees’’ and regular employees under federal regulations and wage/hour violations that may be incurred as a result.

A3581: The bill revises the law to strengthen enforcement procedures and criminal sanctions against employers who fail to pay wages, compensation or benefits to their employees. The bill imposes criminal sanctions against employers who retaliate against employees who file complaints under the statute and establishes definitions of key terms and phrases found in the statute. It was released along party lines.

Under this bill, an employer found to have committed a violation is required to pay the employee wages owed, plus liquidated damages equal to 100 percent of the wages owed. In addition to the damages, an employer found guilty of a violation is fined $500 plus a penalty of 20 percent of the wages owed for a first offense, and a fine of $1,000 plus a penalty of 20 percent of the wages owed for subsequent offenses. The bill also provides that an employer who is found to have retaliated against an employee for bringing a claim under the statute commits a disorderly person’s offense and is liable to the employee for damages.

A3582: This bill permits the establishment of Garden State Corporations which are principally engaged in manufacturing, and principally utilizing facilities located in New Jersey. It was released along party lines.

Under the bill, the certificate of incorporation or by-laws of a Garden State Corporation is required to provide that half of the members of the board of directors of the corporation are elected by the employees of the corporation who work in New Jersey facilities.

It is required that the employee-elected members of the board have access to all corporation documents and records and equal authority with other members of the board regarding all matters affecting the business and affairs of the corporation, including:

     1.    The selection and removal of officers of the corporation;

     2.    The amendment or repealing of the by-laws or the certificate of incorporation of the corporation;

     3.    Any decision regarding the location of corporation facilities;

     4.    Any decision to seek to obtain or terminate the status of the corporation as a benefit corporation under the provisions of P.L.2011, c.30 (C.14A:18-1 et seq.); and

     5.    Any decision that may result in the termination of the status of the corporation as a Garden State Corporation. Back to Work NJ bill advances