Sometime in the not so distant future, the government shutdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will be over and businesses will start to re-open. In anticipation of this re-opening, businesses should use the time to prepare for the post-COVID-19 world by reviewing and updating their employee handbooks. The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic will forever change the manner in which employers conduct business. Therefore, businesses must evaluate their operations to make sure they are prepared for a post-COVID-19 world.
The impacts of COVID-19 continue to change our lives on a daily basis. The response by the Federal and State governments has immeasurably changed the way we live and conduct business. Employers and employees alike share in the confusion and uncertainty in dealing with the present environment.
With increasing business competition, employers in New Jersey often try and have key executives and salespeople sign restrictive covenants containing non-compete and non-solicitation provisions. Non-compete provisions essentially place limitations on ex-employees working for an employer’s competitors. Non-solicitation provisions seek to prevent former employees from contacting and soliciting an employer’s clientele.
Effective January 25, 2020, private employers in New Jersey will be prohibited from requiring applicants to provide wage and salary history in connection with an offer of employment. Specifically, the new law makes it unlawful for any private employer to screen a job applicant based on the applicant’s salary history (including an applicant’s prior wages and/or salary) or require the applicant’s salary history to satisfy any minimum or maximum criteria for an offer of employment.
In 2018, New Jersey saw several significant developments in the area of employment law. Litigation involving the validity of arbitration clauses and non-disclosure agreements with respect to discrimination claims received attention with the rise of the ‘Me Too’ movement. Similarly, companies were forced to consider revising their employee handbooks to provide for a “zero tolerance” policy when addressing sexual harassment claims. However, there are two other recent developments in New Jersey employment law that significantly impact employers and employees alike.
The evening news reports that this year's flu strain will be particularly bad. They predict, however, that the current flu vaccination will be very effective in fighting this strain of flu. The question becomes, why are you not scheduling an appointment for the flu vaccination?
On July 1, 2018, New Jersey's Equal Pay Act (hereinafter "NJ EPA") will become effective. Unlike its federal counterpart, the NJ EPA mandates equal pay for all members of "protected classes" under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), not just women.
You have been the victim of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. You notify your employer’s human resource manager, who initiates an appropriate investigation into your claim. Your employer eventually wants to reach an amicable settlement with you. In exchange for your agreement to settle your claim, your employer requires you to sign the settlement agreement containing, among other things, a provision whereby you agree not to disclose the details of your harassment or discrimination.
Irrespective of the size of your business, companies should have an employee handbook or manual. Employee handbooks can provide certainty and structure to your operations as well as place your employees on notice as to what you expect from them. Employee handbooks do not have to manage every aspect of your business. In fact, companies should avoid including within a handbook details regarding its operations that are subject to frequent change or policies and procedures the company will not enforce. At the same time, companies should not attempt to use form handbooks; one size does not always fit all.