Frequently Asked Questions: The New Jersey Service Worker Retention Law

Answering common questions from contractors and building owners to prepare for October 24, 2023 implementation.

The Service Worker Retention Law specifies what types of locations and services are covered.

This law applies to covered employees performing specific services at specific locations.

Covered employees:

     All employees performing covered services at covered locations who have worked there for at least 60 days, are not managerial or professional employees and are regularly scheduled for at least 16 hours per week.*

Covered Locations:

  • Multi-family residential buildings or complexes with more than 50 units;
  • Commercial center or office building or complex occupying more than 100,000 sq. ft.
  • Primary, secondary or tertiary educational institutions;
  • Cultural center or complexes, such as museums, arenas or convention centers
  • Industrial site or pharmaceutical lab;
  • Airport and train stations;
  • Health care provider locations, including hospitals, nursing care facilities and senior care centers.**
  • State courts; and
  • Warehouse or distribution center

Covered Services:

  • In connection with care or maintenance of a building or property
  • Passenger related security services, cargo related and ramp services, in-terminal and passenger handling and cleaning services at an airport;
  • Food preparation services at educational institutions.

In all cases, the work at issue must be substantially similar to work that was being performed within the previous 90 days at the location.

The Service Worker Retention Law applies when an awarding authority is responsible for a Triggering Event, that is:

  • Awards a contract for services;
  • Has purchased or acquired control of a covered location, or
  • Bring work in-house that had been performed under a terminated service contract.

At least 15 days before terminating a contract or selling a property where covered employees work, the awarding authority must:

  • Request the terminated contractor to provide the successor employer with a list of the covered employees with date of hire and job classifications and the name and contract informations of the employee’s union, if any.
  • Give the successor employer a list of employees with date of hire and job classifications and the name and contact information of the employee’s union, if any.
  • Provide written notice to the Union of a Triggering Event, that is a decision to end a covered contract, enter into a covered contract or sell or transfer the property.
  • Ensure that the employees receive written notice of the Triggering Event.
  • Take resonable steps to learn the identity of the covered employees.
  • Provide a written offer of employment substantially in the form set forth in Section 4 of the law. The offer will: a) include the deadline for accepting the offer (at least 10 days after the offer is delivered), b) include the name and contact information of the successor including the name of the person doing the hiring; c) be provided in all languages in which at least 10% of the covered employees are fluent. The offer may be sent by e-mail.
  • Provide a copy of the written offer of employment to the union, if any, representing the covered employees.
  • Retain the covered employees for at least a 60-day transition period.
  • A successor may utilize fewer covered employees than the predecessor provided it does the following:
    a. Offer employment to and/or retain covered employees by seniority within each job classification for all covered positions,
    b. Maintain a preferential hiring list for covered employees not retained; and
    c) Fill all openings for covered employment from the preferential hiring list until all covered employees were offered employment.
  • A successor may terminate a covered employee only if it has just cause to do so. An employee challenging whether the employer has just cause for termination would do so in a law suit to enforce the Service Worker Retention Law (see Enforcement below).

The Service Worker Retention Law does not apply if the successor employer is bound to or assumes and is bound by a collective bargaining agreement which has provisions governing the discharge or laying off of employees.

Any contractual agreement which interferes with the successor employer’s fulfilling its obligations under the Service Worker Retention Law is contrary to public policy and is void.

  • An employee who was not properly offered employment or retained may bring a law suit to enforce the Service Worker Retention Law.
  • The court may impose a fine of up to $2,500 for the first violation and up to $5,000 for subsequent violations. Each week in which on any day a violation occurs is a separate violation.
  • The court may award the employee reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
  • The court may require the violator to pay restitution (lost wages and benefits) and consequential damages to employees.
  • The court may issue injunctive relief requiring employment of covered employees.

The Service Worker Retention Law supersedes and preempts any county or municipal law or regulation concerning retention of covered employees. It does not affect local law affecting other employees.

October 24, 2023. It applies to contracts entered into or renewed after that date.

*The Service Worker Retention Law does not cover employees working on structural, electric, HVAC or plumbing projects that require a permit.
**The Service Worker Retention Law does not apply to any change in control which falls within the scope of 34:11-4.15 et seq.
***These obligations apply to an employer which brings work in house or maintains in-house employment after a sale of the business or transfer of control of the business.

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