NH House bill takes aim at ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ vacation policies

Measure would give employees more control over time off

If House Bill 1201, passed by the NH House on Thursday, becomes law, company policies that require employees to either “use or lose” their vacation time might become a thing of the past.

The measure would require companies that offer vacation time to spell out the policies to their workers and provide an accounting of time used. If employees don’t use that vacation time in a year, they will have 90 days to schedule a vacation. If they can’t, “due to the needs of the business,” the company has to pay the workers for their time off.

Opponents of the bill argued that vacation time is a discretionary benefit, not something to be regulated by the state. The legislation “encumbers the workplace to include labor and management, with an administrative burden that is inconsistent with marketplace need and reality,” wrote Philip Bean, R-Hampton, representing the House Labor Committee, which recommended killing the bill.

But once granted, the vacation pay belongs to the worker, not the employer, said Rep. Michael Cahill, D-Newmarket. He gave an example of workers who worked though their vacation to help their employer, “only to have it forfeited.”

The bill only pertains to companies that have vacation policies and does not include those employers operating under a collective bargaining agreement. An attempt to kill the bill narrowly failed, 162-159, but then the House passed an amended bill, 192-139. It now goes to the NH Senate.

The AFL-CIO supported the bill, while the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire opposed it and said it would fight against it the Senate.

“Our basic premise is it is inappropriate and unwise for the government to force a one-size-fits-all benefit package for the private sector,” said David Juvet, senior vice president of public policy for the BIA. “We don’t need government stepping in and telling employers how to run their business.”

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