Employer Insights

New Hampshire Labor Laws - The Complete Guide for 2023 - 2024

by Matt Gatsas, on Feb 14, 2024 5:19:58 PM

New England businesses operating out of New Hampshire (NH), or businesses with employees residing in New Hampshire, need to ensure a proper understanding of state compliance and what is required to operate a business legally. Here is everything you need to know about NH labor laws.New Hampshire businesses must ensure a deep understanding of New Hampshire Labor Laws in order to manage a compliant business in 2024.

New Hampshire Labor Law Overview

In order to successfully manage a business in New Hampshire, employers need to be aware of the following sections of labor laws in order to avoid non-compliance and any penalties that come with it:

  • Hiring Laws
  • Wage & Hour Laws
  • Child Labor Laws
  • Employee Benefits Laws
  • Leave Laws
  • Workplace Health & Safety Laws
  • Discrimination Laws
  • Workers’ Compensation Laws
  • Unemployment Insurance Requirements
  • Recordkeeping and Posting Requirements

New Hampshire Hiring Laws

New Hampshire employers need to be aware of two primary areas of compliance when it comes to hiring employees. These areas include criminal history access and new hire reporting requirements.

New Hampshire Criminal History Laws

In addition to federal laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other discrimination laws, employers in New Hampshire must also ensure they are aware of requirements under the New Hampshire Obsolete Information Law, as well as New Hampshire “Ban-the-Box”.

Obsolete Information Law (New Hampshire Criminal History Access)

Under New Hampshire Criminal History Access Law, employers may not obtain via a background check, any records of arrest, indictments, or convictions of crime that predate the request by more than seven years. 

Important to note, however, is that this law only applies to positions whose annual salary is less than or expected to be less than $20,000. It is worth noting that under the FCRA, employers may still not access records older than seven years.

New Hampshire Ban-the-Box Law

Under New Hampshire House Bill 253 (NH HB253), public-sector employers may not inquire into or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history prior to the interview stage in the hiring process. 

Once an applicant has had a chance to interview for the position may such information be obtained.

New Hampshire New Hire Reporting Requirements

Under New Hampshire New Hire Reporting Law, employers must report new hires to the New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) within 20 days of the "First Day of Hire”. “First Day of Hire” is defined as the first day the worker performs services for wages, another form of compensation, or becomes under contract.

In New Hampshire, employers must not only report all newly hired and rehired employees but must also report certain independent contractors if the employer expects to or in fact does reimburse the contractor at least $2,500 for services for one or more contracts in a single calendar year.

Employers may report the following information either online, by fax, or magnetic media (CD):

  • Federal Employer Identification Number
  • NHES Employer Account Number (if any)
  • Employer's Name
  • Employer's Address
  • Social Security Number (Not FEIN #)
  • Employee's/Contractor's Complete Name
  • Employee's Home/Contractor's Home or Business Address: Physical Location, (Not PO Box)
  • First Day of Hire
  • Work State
  • Type of Hire (employee or contractor)

Medical Use of Marijuana

New Hampshire is a medical marijuana state. As such, it is illegal to deny any right or privilege (including employment) to a qualifying patient for the therapeutic use of cannabis in accordance with the law.

New Hampshire Wage & Hour Laws

The primary areas of New Hampshire compliance are wage and hour laws. Employers should ensure a proper understanding of these laws before processing payroll in New Hampshire.

Employee Classification

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there are three types of workers: non-exempt, exempt, and independent contractors. 

Employers should ensure that they properly classify employees, as the misclassification of a worker may have state and federal monetary consequences.

Minimum Wage

Under New Hampshire Minimum Wage Law, employers must ensure that employees are compensated at a rate no less than that of the federal minimum wage. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Special Rate for Tipped Employees

New Hampshire employees who work at a restaurant, hotel, motel, inn, or cabin and customarily and regularly receive at least $30 per month in tips may be paid a tipped wage of at least 45% of the state minimum wage.

Other Employer Requirements Under Minimum Wage Law

In addition to ensuring employees are compensated fairly and accurately, employers must also keep a true and accurate record of all hours worked daily by each non-exempt employee (in regards to FLSA status).

Overtime Rates

New Hampshire Minimum Wage Law also covers overtime pay rates. 

Other than those employees classified as exempt under FLSA rules, employees shall be paid at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a given week.

Overtime Exceptions

In New Hampshire in addition to FLSA-exempt employees, seasonal workers whose employer operates for less than six months of the year are also exempt from overtime pay in the state. 

Important to note is that these employees may still be covered under federal overtime law.

Deductions from Wages

It is important to understand what deductions from wages are permissible in New Hampshire in order to accurately pay employees. 
Generally, employers may deduct from an employee’s wages in the following instances:

  • The employer is required to do so by law (this includes payroll taxes)
    The employer has written authorization by the employee for benefits deductions, these can include:
    • Medical, surgical, hospital, and other group insurance benefits, required clothing not covered by the definition of uniform, payments into savings funds held by someone other than the employer, and more
  • The deductions are pursuant to any rules or regulations for medical, surgical, or hospital care or service
  • Upon an employee's written request, an employer may deduct for certain items from the employee's wages, provided that the employer shall provide a written itemized accounting of such requested deductions to the employee at least once per month
  • The employee requests in writing that deductions may be made for contributions to a political action committee from the employee's wages
  • The employer has a written request from the employee, made at the time of the original request without coercion or pressure, that authorizes the employer to deduct from the employee's final wages at the termination of employment any amount the employee may owe for voluntary payments for vacation pay, paid time off pay, earned time pay, personal time pay, annual pay, sick pay, sick dependent pay, and bereavement pay made pursuant to a written employment policy as required by RSA 275:49, III, when the payments have been requested and paid to the employee in advance of eligibility.

Pay Frequency and Wage Payment Timing

New Hampshire employers have the option to pay employees either weekly or biweekly under New Hampshire Pay Frequency Law.

Employers who are paying employees weekly must ensure that payment of wages is made within eight days after the expiration of the work week.

Employers who are paying employees biweekly must ensure that payment of wages is made within 15 days after the expiration of the work week.

Employers who wish to pay employees less frequently can make a Request for Payment of Wages Other than Weekly or Biweekly with the New Hampshire Department of Labor.

Final Pay Rules

When an employee is terminated, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, any due wages must be paid out under New Hampshire Final Paycheck Law. This includes any vacation pay, severance pay, personal days, holiday pay, sick pay, and payment of employee expenses (when such benefits are a matter of employment practice or policy) as such benefits fall under the definition of wages in New Hampshire.

When an employee is fired or discharged, employee wages are due in full within 72 hours of termination.

If an employee is laid off, or work is suspended due to a labor dispute, all wages earned at the time of suspension or layoff are due in full on the next regular scheduled payday.

When an employee quits, when wages are due depends on the circumstances. Generally, when an employee quits wages are due in full on the next regular scheduled payday. However, if an employee gives at least one pay period's notice of intention to quit then wages are due in full within 72 hours of the final shift.

Final payment should be made using the regular pay channels of the business. If an employee is laid off or quit, they may request final pay by mail.

New Hampshire Required Pay Law

Under New Hampshire Required Pay Law, generally, employees who report to work at an employer's request shall be compensated for at least 2 hours worked at his or her regular rate of pay, regardless of how long they actually worked.

Exceptions include:

  • Employees of counties or municipalities
  • Ski and snowboard instructional employees at ski resorts provided that these employees receive other compensation that is at least equal to their rate of pay 
  • Employers who make a good-faith effort to notify an employee not to report to work

Meal and Rest Breaks

New Hampshire employers need to be aware of rules regarding rest breaks, meal breaks, days of rest, and express milk breaks in order to manage compliance when it comes to employee scheduling.

Rest Breaks

While New Hampshire does not have a law requiring employers to give employees rest breaks, under federal law all short breaks offered by employers are to be considered “hours worked” and must be paid.

Federal law considers a short break to be between 5 and 20 minutes long.

Meal Breaks

Under New Hampshire Meal Break Law, employees who work more than five consecutive hours must be provided with a lunch break or meal period of 30 minutes. 

A meal break need not be given if the employee is able to eat while performing their duties, AND the employer permits them to do so.

Day of Rest Requirement

New Hampshire Day of Rest Requirement states that employees who work on a Sunday must be given a 24-hour consecutive rest period in the following six days.

Express Milk Break

One of the more recent updates to New Hampshire Labor Laws is the new law allowing nursing mothers to take a break to express milk. 

While employers must currently maintain compliance with the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the newer PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”), starting July 1st, 2025 employers will need to ensure compliance with New Hampshire House Bill 358 and the associated Policies Relating to Nursing Mothers. 

The new law applies to employers with six or more employees, and requires them to provide an unpaid break of 30 minutes for every three hours of work performed by a nursing employee so that they may express milk.

Child Labor Laws in New Hampshire

In addition to child labor law provisions set forth by the FLSA, New Hampshire employers must also ensure compliance with the New Hampshire Youth Employment Law.

Work Certificates

New Hampshire employers may only employ workers under the age of 18 who have obtained a youth employment certificate. Such a certificate must be obtained by the employer within three days of the first day of employment, and records of all certificates must be kept on file.

Such certificates may be obtained from principals of schools or other authorized personnel, or may be obtained from a parent or legal guardian. However, in order to obtain such a certificate, the minor must maintain a satisfactory level of academic performance.

A certificate is not needed if the minor is employed by his or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, at work defined as casual, or as a farm laborer.

Certificate Revocation

In the event that a minor employee falls out of a satisfactory level of academic performance, their certificate may be revoked. 

If the certificate was issued by a principal of a school a notification of the revocation shall be made to the parent or legal guardian, the employer of the student, and the Department of Labor within 48 hours. 

If the certificate was issued by a parent or legal guardian a notification of the revocation shall be made to the employer of the student and the department of labor within 48 hours. 

Once such a notification is received, the Department of Labor shall investigate the compliance of the revocation within 90 days.

Prohibitions Regarding Youth Employment

Employers should be aware of New Hampshire Youth Employment Prohibitions, which include topics such as:

  • Prohibited Occupations
  • Prohibited Duties
  • Hours Worker Restrictions

New Hampshire Leave Laws

New Hampshire is one of the most unique states when it comes to employee leave laws and rights. In fact, it is the only state in the nation with a voluntary Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) program. 

Additionally, employers must still maintain compliance with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well as rules regarding the following types of leave:

  • Jury Duty Leave
  • Pregnancy Leave
  • Crime Victim Leave

New Hampshire Voluntary Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan (PFML)

New Hampshire is the only state in the country to have a Voluntary Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan. The plan is available to both employers and any individual whose employer does not provide NH PFML insurance or equivalent benefits.

Individuals may enroll in the individual plan during the open enrollment period. For 2024, this was from December 1st, 2023 to January 29th, 2024. Employers may enroll in the group plan at any time. 

For individuals or employees whose employers participate in the voluntary plan, NH PFML provides up to 6 weeks per year of paid leave for absences from work for covered common life events.

Important to note is that while it is optional for employers to provide PFML insurance, all employers have responsibilities regarding New Hampshire Voluntary Paid Family and Medical Leave. Responsibilities differ depending on employer size.

Covered Employers and Employees

Paid Family and Medical Leave is available to all New Hampshire employers with a physical location in the state. 

Employees and individuals are eligible for coverage if they are designated as working for a New Hampshire employer and have their wages reported to New Hampshire for unemployment purposes.

Covered Common Life Events

Covered common life events, otherwise referred to as qualifying events, include:

  • To care for one’s own serious health condition(s) when disability coverage doesn’t apply*, including childbirth
  • To bond with a child due to birth, adoption or fostering
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition(s)
  • To care for a qualifying military service member 
  • To participate in a qualifying event arising from military deployment or service

Leave Compensation and Funding

Leave under PFML insurance is paid via a wage replacement benefit of 60% (up to the Social Security wage cap) for the duration of the leave.

Employer Group Plans also include the following benefits:

  • Paid family and paid medical leave together in a single insurance policy 
  • Optional MetLife 12-week coverage plan
  • BET tax credit equal to 50% of the premium paid by the employer each year (for 6-week plan purchased through MetLife)
  • Options for premium funding through employer and/or worker contributions
  • Full day, reduced schedule or partial day leaves (minimum of 4-hour increments)
  • Up to a 7-day elimination period after which a claim may be paid

Employer group plans are individually underwritten Premiums that are based on information provided during the quoting process. This information includes, but is not limited to:

  • 6-week or 12-week plan
  • Percentage of employer contribution
  • Workforce demographics/census
  • Employer STD plan

The premium for individual plan insurance on the other hand is determined during the enrollment process, however, per state law, the cost will be no more than $5 per week.

How to Purchase Leave Insurance

Employers may purchase PFML Insurance through MetLife, the state’s paid family and medical leave insurance partner, or another approved insurance company. However, employers who do not purchase the insurance through MetLife will not be eligible for the BET tax credit.

Employer Responsibilities

All employers, regardless of whether or not they offer PFML insurance, must participate in the claims process for their workers. Participation includes providing wage and leave information, work schedules, and other benefits information to MetLife in support of workers’ claims.

Employers are also responsible for answering questions regarding PFML insurance and directing workers to MetLife when needed. 

Finally, it is unlawful for any employer to take adverse action against an employee for using PFML insurance benefits. 

Additional requirements also apply depending on whether or not an employer is considered large or small.

Large Employer Requirements (50+ employees)

Employers with 50 or more employees must also:

  • Collect worker premium payments through payroll deductions (whether the employer is enrolled in the NH PFML group insurance plan or has employees in the NH PFML individual plan)
    • Employers paying 100% of the premium do not have to take payroll deductions from workers
  • Continue to provide health insurance during leave with workers paying any shared costs
  • Federal Family and Medical Leave Act provisions regarding job restoration may be applicable
Small Employer Requirements (Under 50 employees)

The following apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees:

  • Smaller employers are not required to collect premium payments through payroll deductions
  • Smaller employers make premium payments through arrangements with MetLife
  • Federal Family and Medical Leave Act provisions regarding job restoration may be applicable

Jury Duty Leave

Under New Hampshire Juror Qualifications and Terms of Service, employers are required to give employees time off to serve as part of a jury. Time off may be paid or unpaid at the discretion of the employer. 

Employers may not discharge or penalize employees for taking leave to participate in a jury.

Pregnancy Leave

Employers must offer female employees time off if physically disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Important to note is that there is no set period of leave length, rather the amount of leave required is determined by a physician.

Whether or not pregnancy leave is paid or unpaid is somewhat up to the discretion of the employer. Employers who continue to pay other temporarily disabled employees must do the same for pregnant employees, as they are legally regarded as disabled as well. 

Pregnancy leave is job-protected, and employers may not take any adverse action as a result of an employee taking pregnancy leave. 

However, it is important to understand that pregnancy leave is for disability only, and does not cover things such as childcare and bonding.

Crime Victim Employment Leave Act

Under the New Hampshire Crime Victim Employment Leave Act, employers must grant employees unpaid leave if they have been the victim of a crime and are required to attend court or other legal or investigative proceedings associated with the prosecution of the crime.

In order to take leave, an employee must provide their employer with a copy of the notice of each scheduled hearing, conference, or meeting that the employee must attend. 

Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee for taking leave under this law, however, do have the right to require that employees use any accrued paid vacation time, personal leave time, or sick leave time.

Employee Benefits Laws

In addition to Federal COBRA Law, New Hampshire also has a mini-COBRA Law that applies to all employers, rather than just those with 20 or more employees.

New Hampshire Continuation of Benefits (mini-COBRA)

Aside from applying to employers of all sizes, one of the primary distinctions between federal and New Hampshire COBRA law is that the latter allows for up to 39 weeks of continuation coverage. However, coverage may be shortened due to failure to pay premiums, health coverage under another employer’s group plan is obtained, or Medicare eligibility is obtained. 

New Hampshire COBRA coverage costs the employer’s full price, plus a 2% administrative fee, however, is paid directly to the employer. 

In the event of a qualifying event, the carrier is responsible for notifying eligible individuals of their continuation rights and providing an election notice as well as enrollment instructions within 30 days of said event. The affected individual then has 45 days to elect and make a payment.

Qualifying Events in New Hampshire

Qualifying events include:

  • Termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct
  • Reduction of hours
  • Divorce and legal separation (in the case of a spouse or dependent)
  • Change in dependent status (in the case of a spouse or dependent)
  • Being declared totally disabled (in the case of a spouse or dependent)
  • Death of covered employee (in the case of a spouse or dependent)

Additionally and unique to New Hampshire, employees, their spouses, and dependents shall become eligible for COBRA coverage if the employer makes a declaration of bankruptcy.

Workplace Health & Safety Laws

While there are no state Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) laws for New Hampshire, employers do need to maintain compliance with federal OSHA law. 

Additionally, employers in New Hampshire should be aware of laws regarding smoking in the workplace.

New Hampshire Indoor Smoking Act

The New Hampshire Indoor Smoking Act covers employers with four or more employees, and requires them to prohibit smoking in enclosed areas that are open to the public. This includes workplaces if employers are unable to effectively segregate smoking-permitted areas. 

This law does not apply to areas in public places that are used for private purposes. Examples of these areas include hotel guest rooms and private clubs.

Covered employers must also ensure that there is a written policy that details in which areas smoking is prohibited or restricted. The policy must be provided to employees or otherwise posted in an easily accessible and conspicuous location.

Lastly, employers must place appropriate and permanent signs at all major entrances to buildings, facilities, or other enclosed places where smoking is prohibited under the law.

Discrimination Laws

In addition to federal discrimination laws, employers in New Hampshire must also adhere to certain state laws and requirements when it comes to discrimination.

New Hampshire Human Rights Act

Under the New Hampshire Human Rights Act (NH-HRA), employers may not fail to hire, refuse to hire, fire, or otherwise discriminate against an employee as a result of said employee’s:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Race
  • Creed
  • Color
  • Marital status
  • Physical or mental disability
  • National origin 
  • Sexual orientation

The NH-HRA applies to employers with six or more employees.

General Prohibitions of Discriminatory Practices

In New Hampshire, the following discriminatory practices are also prohibited:

  • Discriminating in the payment of wages based on sex for substantially similar work (skills, effort, responsibility, and similar working conditions) 
  • Banning employees from discussing, or otherwise discriminating against employees for discussing or disclosing their wages
  • Using arrest information for employment purposes, except when it is a business necessity
  • Accessing criminal conviction records of an applicant or employee without first obtaining written, notarized consent from that individual
  • Retaliating against any individual for asserting their rights or participating in any claim or investigation under the law

Reasonable Accommodation Requirements

The NH-HRA also states that employers must make reasonable accommodations for the known limitations of individuals with disabilities, so long as it does not create undue hardship for the employer. 

In New Hampshire, pregnant employees may fall under the category of disabled workers when affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and/or related medical conditions.

Medical Marijuana Protections

Under New Hampshire law, medical marijuana patients may not be discriminated against, or denied any right or privilege, for the therapeutic use of cannabis. This includes employment-related rights and privileges. 

However, employers are not required to accommodate the therapeutic use of cannabis in the workplace, and may discipline an employee for ingesting cannabis in the workplace or for working while under the influence of cannabis.

Workers’ Compensation Laws

New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation requirements state that all employers must provide workers' compensation insurance. Employers are responsible for obtaining such insurance prior to hiring any employees, and must offer said insurance to all full and part-time employees.

Filing a Claim

Employers are responsible for reporting in sufficient detail to the commissioner, any injury sustained by an employee in the course of employment no later than five days after the employer is notified (by the employee) of the occurrence of such an injury. Employers are recommended to report injuries, however, as soon as possible.

If an employer fails to file a First Report of Injury, the employer may be subject to a fine of up to $2,500.

Unemployment Insurance Requirements

New Hampshire’s Employment Security's Unemployment Compensation Bureau is responsible for providing unemployment benefits to eligible claimants temporarily unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own. They are also responsible for collecting taxes from employers to fund these benefit payments.

The New Hampshire new employer tax rate is 2.7 % minus any Fund Reduction or plus any Emergency Power Surcharge in place for the applicable quarter.

Covered employers are also required to file a Tax and Wage Report for every quarter. Such a report serves two purposes:

  • To provide wage information about individual employees to be used in determining potential entitlement to benefits 
  • To establish the amount of taxable wages paid each quarter so that taxes due may be calculated and paid timely

New Hampshire Recordkeeping and Posting Requirements

New Hampshire has both recordkeeping and posting requirements for employers.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must keep records for the following types of information in New Hampshire:

  • Wages, Payroll, and Hours
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Safety and Health
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Child Labor Records / Certificates

Generally, employers must also provide a reasonable opportunity for employees to inspect their personnel files upon request. Employees may also copies of all or part of their personnel file.

Labor Law Posting Requirements

New Hampshire employers must ensure that they display the following state posters in an easily accessible and conspicuous location:

  • Workers' Compensation Law (obtain from insurance carrier)
  • Protective Legislation Law
  • Criteria to Establish an Employee or Independent Contractor
  • New Hampshire Minimum Wage Law
  • Whistleblowers' Protection Act
  • Workers Right to Know
  • Equal Pay Law
  • Unemployment Notice
  • NHES Vacation Shutdown
  • Employment Poster
  • 2240 - Spanish Employment Poster
  • Housing Discrimination Poster

New Hampshire employers must ensure that they display the following federal posters in an easily accessible and conspicuous location, in addition to the above posters:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • US Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

Get Help with New Hampshire Labor Law Compliance

New Hampshire regulations are constantly changing on a federal, state, and local level and have some of the most unique aspects regarding employee rights and protections. 

Businesses and New Hampshire employers who are struggling with compliance may want to reach out to a New Hampshire Payroll Service, which can help organizations stay up-to-date and compliant with payroll and HR regulations.

Companies looking for New Hampshire payroll and HR services can find a provider now, or contact us for more information.

Guest Author: Matt Gatsas

Headshot2-modifiedMatt serves as the Vice President of Trivantus, New Hampshire payroll services company providing personalized service that has lead to having been voted Best Payroll Service Company by New Hampshire Business Review for many consecutive years, and more recently, earning a spot in the ranks of Inc. 5000 as one of America's fastest growing companies. Matt spends most of his time overseeing and managing the financial functions at Trivantus. Matt graduated from Babson College with a degree in Investments and is a resident of Bedford, NH where he lives with his wife Celia and two children Calla and Matthew. A big sports fan that loves to play golf, Matt has a deep love for horse racing, helping to manage his family's Thoroughbred horde racing partnership business, Sovereign Stable, Inc, and regularly attending races.

Topics:New Hampshire Labor Laws

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