Senate panel seems skeptical about e-wages



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Will employers be able to force their workers to accept their wages in the form of an electronic payment, or at the very least, a debit card?And will employers be able to switch to paying employees without getting permission from the state Department of Labor?Currently, an employee has the right still to be paid by check, but Senate Bill 341, which is before the Senate Commerce Committee, would give that choice to the employer instead.The Labor Department came out strongly against the bill, arguing that many workers don't have a bank account and rush to cash their check at their employers bank.The compromise? A debit card. Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said that workers would not have to run to the that same bank with plastic instead of paper. Or they could just use it to buy groceries.But everyone wasn't sure about that. What about debit card fees? What about being able to see your deductions each week, rather than wait until you get a W-2 form?"What if you are not electronically savvy, what if you're an outlier?" asked Sen. Ray White, R-Bedford.White mused that perhaps employers could simply refuse to hire workers who insisted on a paper check, but Prescott wondered if it is constitutional to insist that a bank account be a condition of employment.To complicate things further, Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Henniker, had earlier said he planned to tack on an amendment that would give employers the option to pay workers biweekly rather than weekly. The current law only allows weekly payments, unless authorized by the commissioner of labor. But Sanborn wasn't on hand, only the amendment, so that discussion will have to wait.However, even without the amendment, Senators seemed to lean against the bill, though they also signaled that they could be persuaded otherwise. -- BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

 

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