New Jersey Governor Conditionally Vetoes Staffing Bill, But Issues Remain

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On Sept. 22, New Jersey Gov, Phil Murphy issued a conditional veto of A 1474 / S 511, an onerous bill that would make it harder for staffing agencies to do business in the Garden State. Although the conditional veto contains some positive changes, several industry suggestions were not included in the governor’s revisions. The amended bill now returns to the legislature for a vote by the General Assembly and the Senate.

Among the positive changes included in the governor’s conditional veto

  • A more detailed definition of what type of employees would be covered under the law, which would include food preparation workers and servers; landscapers; personal care workers; and workers in construction, transportation, and warehouse jobs
  • Allowing temporary staffing companies the ability to pay workers on a biweekly basis rather than letting employees decide the schedule
  • Changing the bill’s effective date to six months after the governor signs the bill instead of 90 days after

Unfortunately, the bill’s most onerous provisions were not included in the conditional veto and remain in the bill. They include

  • A requirement that staffing agencies pay temporary staff the same pay and benefits as clients pay their staff
  • A limitation on a temporary staffing firm’s use of conversion fees
  • A prohibition against staffing firms providing transportation to temporary employees unless it is free of charge

The conditional veto came at the end of months of meetings and negotiations between Gov. Murphy’s staff and members of the New Jersey Staffing Alliance, an ASA-affilliated chapter; ASA; and several outside lobbyists. The changes made in the veto were welcomed, but they fall well short of what the industry needs to make this bill workable.

Most troubling for affected firms is the “comparable pay” language. In meetings with the governor’s staff, industry representatives argued that this language would be impossible to implement, as it would require the state to make myriad arbitrary judgments as to which jobs or occupations in society are of comparable economic value and then mandate that they be compensated at the same rate regardless of the value placed on those jobs by the marketplace. They also pointed out that a mandate to provide specific levels of health insurance would be struck down as a violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Unfortunately, those arguments fell on deaf ears.

Next Steps

The conditional veto now heads to the legislature, where it will be considered and voted upon by both the General Assembly and the Senate. Passage in the General Assembly seems almost certain, but the original vote was much closer in the Senate. In meetings since the bill was passed, various senators have said they would look closely at the governor’s conditional veto to see what changes were made. If the bill is not approved by both houses, it is dead for the session.

The staffing industry will advocate for the defeat of the conditional veto, arguing that the bill would disrupt longer-term projects, violate market principles, and chill the use of flexible staffing arrangements, depriving workers and businesses of critical flexibility.

ASA will soon be reaching out to its members regarding a grassroots effort.




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