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Employee misclassification, freelancer protection measures head to Murphy

The state Legislature sent Gov. Phil Murphy a host of bills aimed at clamping down on worker misclassification, even as it failed to push through a controversial bill during lame duck that would have reclassified many workers as regular employees.

Assembly Bill 5839 levies fines and penalties against employers who intentionally misclassified workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Another measure approved Monday, Assembly Bill 5843, requires employers to post written notices about worker misclassification and the laws aimed at preventing businesses from wrongly classifying employees as gig workers.

The measures both passed Monday as part of a package of six that lawmakers sent to Murphy’s desk. He will have until Jan. 21 to sign or veto.

Another measure headed to the governor’s desk – Assembly Bill 5838 – would let the state labor department issue a “stop-work order” against businesses found to have been violating the state’s wage and hour laws by knowingly misclassifying workers.

Under the bill, the order would stay in place until the labor department is guaranteed the workers have been properly classified. Businesses could be assessed a $5,000 penalty for every day the order is in effect. The measure does require a seven-day heads-up about the stop-work order so that they could rectify the situation.

They come on the heels of the unsuccessful and highly controversial Senate Bill 4204, which would have reclassified tens of thousands of freelance “gig economy” workers as regular employees — and was worded so that it would affect workers for ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft and food delivery services like DoorDash.

Daniel J. Munoz
Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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