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New Jersey Rolls Out Cloud-Based Wage Compliance Solution

A new platform from the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development and a nonprofit partner is giving unprecedented insights into public works wages and compliance with prevailing wage laws.

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Last week, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) introduced its New Jersey Wage Hub (NJWH), a digital portal that makes it easier for employers to comply with state labor laws and ensure that worker protections are being adhered to on public job sites.

The creation of the new tool was prompted by a 2023 amendment to the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act, which previously required the NJDOL to “establish a prevailing wage level for workmen engaged in public works ..." The new platform takes a big step in that direction.

“Before the implementation of the New Jersey Wage Hub, payrolls were submitted in a nonstandard format, primarily within nonreadable PDF files,” N.J. Labor Department spokesperson Angela Delli Santi said. “They could not be searched, queried or analyzed with ease, and because of the antiquated way in which these records are held, citizens of the state of New Jersey could not be confident that public works contractors complied with equal pay or prevailing wage laws and the commissioner of labor could not fully carry out his responsibilities under the law.”

The law was amended to mandate that public works contractors submit certified payrolls online to the NJDOL, as opposed to just the contracting authority. The cloud-integrated hub simplifies compliance for contractors, consolidating this data into a single, centralized repository. This includes information about public works projects, wages paid for each employee, benefits provided on public works projects and demographic information about employees.

The portal also securely taps into the existing administrative database that tracks public works registration and compliance to include information about contractors’ registration status, address and other key information.

“Cloud technology ensures that the New Jersey Wage Hub uses best-in-class, modern technological tools, meaning that it can reliably and flexibly handle traffic as more employers and workers use the portal — all while keeping costs low,” Santi explained. “In addition, the tool uses existing, state-compliant managed services to ensure that the data held within the application is secure, using the same kind of security protocols as best-in-class systems across the country in both the private and public sectors.”

The Wage Hub was developed in partnership with Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL), a tech-for-social-impact nonprofit that works with governments to help them use data, science and technology to improve public policy, according to a recent press release.

The NJDOL was originally introduced to RIPL after they were awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to help states improve reskilling and employment opportunities and began work on N.J. Career Central — a portal that encompasses multiple tools for career-seekers to help them at various points in their career journeys. The nonprofit also worked with the NJDOL to develop the N.J. Career Navigator, which generates customized job, training and career change recommendations using machine learning technology.

“As a tech-for-social-impact nonprofit, RIPL brings both policy and technology expertise to the table, and its agile, human-centered design approach ensured that the NJWH met the needs of all stakeholders — from policymakers to contractors,” Santi said.

Santi anticipates that in future iterations of the New Jersey Wage Hub, the collaboration between RIPL and NJDOL will broaden its capabilities by integrating supplementary administrative data sources. These sources could encompass information on apprenticeship engagement and prevailing wage rates to heighten the platform's analytical capabilities in the years to come.
Ashley Silver is a staff writer for Government Technology. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo and a graduate degree in public relations from Kent State University. Silver is also a published author with a wide range of experience in editing, communications and public relations.