On Monday, February 4, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill that gradually raises the minimum wage to $15 over the next five years.  The bill raises the current $8.85 minimum wage to $10 an hour on July 1st, $11 an hour on January 1, 2020, and then increases by $1 every subsequent January 1st until reaching $15 per hour in 2024.  Once the minimum wage reaches $15 in 2024, it will continue to increase based on the consumer price index.

Some workers, however, will have to wait longer to see the increase.  Seasonal workers, defined as someone whose job falls only in the period of May 1st to September 30th, and employees of a small employer, defined as a business with five or less employees, will see their minimum wage reach $15 an hour in 2026.  Farm laborers’ wages will reach a minimum of $12.50 in 2024.  Tipped workers, who currently have a minimum wage of $2.13, will see an increase to $5.13 an hour by 2024.

Beginning in 2020, employers will be able to pay a “training wage” equal to at least ninety percent of the minimum wage for the first 120 hours of work after hiring an employee in a training program.  The employer is expected to make a good faith effort to continue to employ the employee after the training wage expires.

New Jersey joins California, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, and small employers in New York in phasing in a $15 minimum wage.