NH business groups line up against bills banning use of credit check, salary history in hiring

‘Employers are in the best position to make decisions,’ says letter urging governor to veto them

Eight New Hampshire business organizations have asked Gov. Chris Sununu to veto legislation that would ban employer use of credit checks and salary history in employment decisions.

“We believe employers are in the best position to make decisions regarding the hiring process for their businesses,” says the letter dated June 7 and released Tuesday by the Business and Industry Association.

The letter targets House Bills 293 and 211.

HB 293 would prohibit employers from running a credit check for both applicants and employees in decisions relating to employment, but it would exempt financial institutions, governments and other institutions where credit checks are required by federal law. It would also allow credit checks for employees in managerial positions, or those with access to personal and financial information, or those that have financial responsibilities or access to the company credit card.

HB 211 would prohibit an employer from requiring prospective employees to disclose their salary history before making them an offer, nor could they use their prior history as a defense if they are sued because of discrimination. An applicant could voluntarily disclose that information.

That bill also passed on a 13-11 vote.

“An individual’s financial history should not limit their future economic security, unfortunately that is exactly what happens when salary and credit history factor into job offers,” said Amanda Sears, director of a Campaign for a Friendly Economy, told NH Business Review. “Policies like these help eliminate longstanding biases that follow working people from job to job and perpetuate undervaluing of those who have been previously underpaid. ”

But Republican Minority Leader Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said that both bills ”were nothing more than another attack on the business community by Senate Democrats.”

The BIA letter was also signed by the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association, the Lodging & Restaurant Association, Motor Transport Association, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, NFIB-NH and the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Neither bill has yet reached the governor’s desk. The governor’s press office did not respond for a request for a comment by NH Business Review’s deadline.

The letter did not mention a third bill restricting employee hiring that also was passed in both the House and Senate.

Senate Bill 100, known as the Ban the Box bill, would forbid employers from asking prospective employees about prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on their application, though employers can ask those questions at an interview.

The Senate passed the bill, 16-8, just enough to overcome a veto, but the House 217-130 margin wouldn’t. The House also amended the bill, so it still has to go to a committee of conference before it heads to the governor. The BIA has not taken a position on that bill, because its membership is divided over it, according to David Juvet, senior vice president of policy.

Some members balked at the government restrictions, he said, but others thought that it was important to enable ex-offenders to re-enter the job market so they will be less likely to reoffend in the future.

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