Biweekly pay bill dies in NH Senate

12-12 vote means employers still need state’s OK to issue checks every other week

The move to allow New Hampshire employers to issue paychecks every other week, without asking the state’s permission, failed Thursday in the NH Senate.

House Bill 1252 didn’t win approval on a 12-12 vote, with two Republicans joining all 10 Democrats in opposing the measure. It was then tabled, and might be dead for the session.

State law requires that employees be paid every week, but employers can pay every other week after receiving state Department of Labor approval, which the agency routinely grants, unless an employer has a problem, usually concerning providing workers’ compensation.

However, many startups and employers that move in from other states, are unaware of the law, only to find out when issued a citation. While that first offense results in only a warning, supporters of the bill said the law creates unnecessary paperwork and expense, either in having to issue twice as many paychecks or from having to apply to the DOL for permission for biweekly pay, or deal with the citation.

However, the bill’s opponents said that it gives the department a chance to flag companies who have had workers’ compensation or wage and hour issues.

To address such concerns, the bill allowed the department to temporarily revoke biweekly privileges if problems arise, and it passed in the House, 176-112, in March.

The Senate Commerce Committee later adopted an amendment last week by Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, that would have toughened workers’ protections a bit more, leaving the biweekly ban in place indefinitely until the Labor Department rectifies any deficiency and determines that the employer is capable of meeting all obligations to employees.

Bradley labeled it a “one strike and you’re out” provision.

Even so, the bill barely made it through committee, first failing and then passing, both on a 3-2 vote.

The bill “would encourage more employers to pay biweekly instead of weekly, which makes budgeting more difficult for low-wage workers living paycheck to paycheck,” said Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, in a release following the vote. “There is no problem with the current weekly pay standard.”

But Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, disagreed in his own release.

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