New Jersey Enacts “Bill of Rights” for Domestic Workers

The New Jersey Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (S723/A822), one of three laws signed in early January relating to protecting immigrants and part of the Murphy administration’s larger effort to build a more inclusive state for all citizens, will take effect in July 2024.

The most significant change this legislation makes for employers is to cover domestic workers for the first time under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (NJWHL). Under the new law, “domestic worker” includes an individual who works in a residence for the purpose of providing any of these services:

caring for a child; serving as a companion or caretaker for a sick, convalescing, or elderly person, or a person with a disability; housekeeping or house cleaning; cooking; providing food or butler service; parking cars; cleaning laundry; gardening; personal organizing, or for any other domestic service purpose.

The law does not apply to certain individuals caring for certain family members (as defined in the statute).

The law also creates several other significant protections for domestic workers. For example, the law requires employers to notify their domestic workers of their rights under the law, establishes penalties for violations of the law, and grants the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development authority to make and promulgate rules, including for creation of a mechanism to receive complaints alleging violations of the law.

The law also requires meal and rest breaks for domestic workers. More specifically, employers must permit domestic workers to take a 30-minute meal break after five consecutive hours worked. Unless the domestic worker is relieved of all work duties during the 30-minute period and can leave the work site, the break is considered on-duty and such individual shall be compensated at their regular rate of pay. Domestic workers must also receive a break of at least ten minutes for each four consecutive hours worked (subject to a minor exception). “Live-in” domestic workers must also receive an unpaid day off after working six consecutive days for the same employer.

With limited exceptions, employers who terminate a domestic worker are now required to provide at least two weeks’ notice; for “live-in” domestic workers, the notice period is a minimum of four weeks.

Looking Ahead

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights makes many changes in the obligations New Jersey employers have to domestic workers. Employers that employ any domestic worker in the state are strongly encouraged to consult with labor and employment counsel to review policies and procedures to minimize any potential liability.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.