Bill to expand protections for service employees advances

Matthew Fazelpoor//December 1, 2022//

Bill to expand protections for service employees advances

Matthew Fazelpoor//December 1, 2022//

Listen to this article

The Senate Labor Committee advanced legislation Dec. 1 to establish employment protections for certain service employees during changes of ownership.

Senate Bill 2389, which was released from committee by a 3-2 vote, would require any employer that enters into a service contract or subcontract with service employees to undertake certain actions to protect them in the event of the transfer of a service contract from one employer to another.

The sponsors, state Sens. Troy Singleton, D-7th District, and Andrew Zwicker, D-16th District, say the measure improves employment protections for these employees.

Troy Singleton

“When ownership of service contracts changes, employees and their needs can often be forgotten. It is important to ensure that employees have job stability, even in transitions of management,” said Singleton. “We are coming off of the heels of a pandemic that catalyzed mass layoffs across the board. This bill will protect employees and their jobs, easing any anxiety that may arise when ownership changes, and will lay out the provisions that will be afforded to service employees.”

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.

“Statewide, New Jersey workers employed by building-service contractors have no legal right to keep their jobs if the contractor changes and the incoming contractor decides not to retain the existing workforce,” said Zwicker. “This legislation would make service employee contracts more transparent to employees and make certain that contractors ensure the stable transfer of service employees.”

Under the bill, at least 15 days before terminating or transferring any service contract, an outgoing employer would be required to notify a succeeding employer of the name, date of hire, and job classification of each service employee and the employee’s collective bargaining representative. The outgoing employer would also be required to provide notice of the impending transfer, including the contact information of the new employer and the date by which the employee would be required to accept the new offer of employment.

The flip side

Ahead of Thursday’s Senate Labor Committee vote, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) voiced its opposition to the measure, saying that employers should have the choice to hire who they see fit based on financial need, job performance, experience or other factors in order to make sound business decisions.

“There are already safeguards in place to protect workers in the event that they lose their job, such as collective bargaining, unemployment insurance and the state and federal mass layoff protections that can protect employees during a change of service contract if they are not offered employment by a new contractor,” said NJBIA Director of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey. “Additionally, service contract vendors already have the opportunity and often do freely choose to interview and hire the workers employed under previous contracts if it would be the most advantageous for their business.”

The NJBIA pointed out that the measure will impact a wide variety of employers and facilities.

“These broad definitions make the impact of this mandate so expansive that it will unnecessarily impact employers in large swaths of the state economy,” Bailey explained.

Bailey added that the bill follows the recent enactment of other laws mandating the retention of employees in both the hotel and health care industries.

“The Legislature must not continue this trend of striking at-will employment and mandating collective bargaining through statute,” said Bailey. “Legislation such as this usurps managerial decision making, increasing the regulatory burden of doing business and harming our overall competitiveness in New Jersey.”