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Quick and Easy Guide to Labor & Employment Law: New Hampshire

This state-specific guide covers labor and employment case law, statutes, rules, and regulations that HR professionals and clients often encounter or have questions about in New Hampshire.

At-Will Employment

New Hampshire is an employment-at-will state. This means that either party may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice. The only exception to the employment-at-will policy is a contract stating otherwise. J&M Lumber and Constr. Co., Inc. v. Smyjunas, 20 A.3d 947 (N.H. 2011).

Right-to-Work Laws

New Hampshire is not a right-to-work state. Employers can require employees and applicants to become or remain union members. The New Hampshire Senate passed a "right to work" bill in early 2021, but the bill failed to pass in the House in June 2021.

Immigration Verification

New Hampshire places no additional employment verification procedures on employers beyond Federal I-9 compliance. There is no requirement to use E-Verify under New Hampshire state laws, although employers may use E-Verify voluntarily.

Drug Testing

New Hampshire does not have laws restricting the right of employers to drug-test job applicants or employees. Employers are therefore free to implement any such policy if it does not violate another law (such as discrimination or retaliation laws).

Court and Jury Duty Leave

Employers must allow employees to attend court for required jury service. Furthermore, employers cannot penalize, threaten, or coerce employees because they are required to attend court for jury service. N.H. RSA § 500-A:14. New Hampshire does not require employers to pay employees wages while serving on a jury.

Voting Leave

New Hampshire does not require an employer to provide employees time off to vote. It does require that an employee who is unable to vote on Election Day due to employment obligations is considered absent and entitled to absentee voting. N.H. RSA § 657.1.

Parental Leave

New Hampshire does not have a parental leave law applicable to private sector employees, but employees have the protection of the federal FMLA, which permits 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, generally.

Sick Leave

New Hampshire law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. NH Admin. Rules, Lab 803.03.

Smoking Laws

Smoking indoors (including in places of work) is generally prohibited under the New Hampshire Indoor Smoking Act, with limited exceptions.

Break Time to Express Milk

New Hampshire does not have its own law to protect the right of women to express milk at work, but the federal FLSA requires employers to generally provide a place other than a restroom for such purpose, and a reasonable time to express milk as needed until the child is one year old.

Meal & Rest Breaks

New Hampshire requires employers to provide employees with at least a 30-minute break if the employee works more than five consecutive hours. The break does not have to be paid if the employee does not perform work during the break. N.H. RSA § 275:30-A.

New Hampshire does not require rest breaks.

Minimum Wage, Overtime, and Wage Recordkeeping

New Hampshire does not have a minimum wage in excess of the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. There have been proposals in the legislature to increase the minimum wage as recently as 2022, but those proposals have failed thus far.

New Hampshire generally follows the FLSA for purposes of overtime. N.H. RSA § 279:21.

At the time of hire, employers must notify each employee of their rate of pay and of the day and place of payment. N.H. RSA § 275:49. Employers must likewise notify employees before any changes to this information. Employees must further receive notification (either written or posted) regarding employment practices and policies as these pertain to paid vacations, holidays, sick leave, bonuses, severance pay, personal days, payment of the employee's expenses, pension, and all other fringe benefits. N.H. Code Admin. Rules, Lab 803.03.

Finally, employers must:

  1. Record payroll information, including start and stop times and meal periods.
  2. Require an employee to sign or initial their time sheet if it must be altered.
  3. Not make use of automated time-keeping devices or software programs that can be altered by an employer without the knowledge of the employee, or that do not clearly indicate that a change was made to the record.
  4. Keep records that show the computation of an employee's compensation.
  5. Make any such records available if requested, to show other than an employer-employee relationship.
  6. Maintain on file a signed copy of the written notifications outlined above.

Id.

Final Payments

Employers in New Hampshire must pay an employee's last paycheck to them within 72 hours of termination if terminated, or the next regular payday if the employee resigns voluntarily. N.H. RSA § 275:44.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance benefits provide income to individuals who have lost work through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages while an unemployed worker searches for suitable work or until an employer can recall the employee to work. Nothing is deducted from the employee's wages to pay for this coverage. Unemployment benefits are administered by New Hampshire Employment Security and additional information regarding the benefits may be accessed at www.nhes.nh.gov/.

Workers' Compensation

The New Hampshire Workers' Compensation Act, N.H. RSA §§ 281-A:1 et seq., applies to all private and public employers in New Hampshire, with very limited exceptions. Employees who suffer injuries and/or occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of their employment may be eligible to receive several types of benefits under the Act. Under the Act, a workplace injury must be immediately reported to the employer; failing to timely report an injury may result in a denial of benefits.

The Act is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Labor, Workers' Compensation Division. Additional information regarding the Act may be accessed at www.nh.gov/labor/workers-comp/index.htm.

Child Labor

Minors older than age 16 do not require work certificates to be employed. However, minors under the age of 16 require an employment certificate that verifies that the minor meets all applicable requirements for employment under New Hampshire law. No youth under 16 may be employed or permitted to work in a dangerous area in manufacturing, construction, mining and quarrying occupations, or in woods and logging.

Youngsters under age 12 may not be permitted to work except for their parents, grandparents, or guardian; in casual employment; or in the delivery of newspapers.

There are also restrictions on hours of work for minors, which vary based on age and whether the minor is in school. The specific requirements to employ a minor in New Hampshire are set forth in the Youth Employment Law, N.H. RSA §§ 276-A:1 et seq; N.H. RSA § 276-A:11.

Gun Laws

Although New Hampshire is a constitutional carry state, meaning individuals can generally carry firearms without the need for an additional permit, employers are free to establish restrictions and regulations related to firearms possession at work, including banning firearms in cars on company premises.

Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire permits medical marijuana, or therapeutic cannabis, but expressly allows employers to discipline employees for marijuana use at work. N.H. RSA § 126-X:3(III)(c).

Whether an accommodation is required for an employee's off-duty use of therapeutic cannabis "should be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific facts of the case." Paine v. Ride-Away, Inc., 274 A.3d 554, 558 (N.H. 2022).

Access to Personnel Files

Employers must permit any employee who requests to inspect their personnel file to do so. The statute likewise "guarantees former employees access to their personnel files." Rix v. Kinderworks Corp., 618 A.2d 833, 835 (N.H. 1992).

Upon request, an employer must provide the employee with a copy of all or part of the file, but the employer may charge the employee costs reasonably related to making copies.

If the employee disagrees with anything in their file and the employee and employer cannot agree on removal or correction of the information, the employee may submit a written statement explaining their version of events for inclusion in the file. N.H. RSA § 275:56.

Mini-WARN

The New Hampshire Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (NH WARN Act) requires 60 days' notice of a mass layoff or plant closing to affected employees and representatives of affected employees, as well as the Commissioner of Labor, New Hampshire Attorney General, and chief elected official of each municipality in New Hampshire within which the plant closing or mass layoff occurs. N.H. RSA § 275-F:3. The content of the notice must follow federal WARN Act requirements.

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Guide last updated November 2022.

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