NH House votes down minimum wage hike, OKs biweekly pay proposal

Effort to give employers immunity on job references rejected in Senate

Editor's note: This article has been revised to reflect the House's passage of House Bill 194, which would allow employers to pay employee's biweekly without having to receive state approval.

New Hampshire lawmakers last week killed almost every bill affecting employees and labor relations from both the left and the right.

An attempt to revive so-called “right-to-work” was clobbered in the House. It needed a two-thirds vote to be considered again, and it couldn’t even receive a simple majority, going down, 157-204.

A bill to raise the minimum wage from the federal $7.25 to $9.50 in January and $12 by 2019 also failed, leaving New Hampshire by far the worst place to work in New England for low-wage employees. The vote to kill that was a little closer, 193-163.

But the House approved a bill permitting employers to issue biweekly pay checks without getting a special waiver from the state Department of Labor. The DOL routinely grants such waivers but uses them as a check to make sure businesses are up to date with unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance.

And the House voted down bills that would have forbidden companies from asking job applicants about their criminal records (so-called “ban the box”) and their credit history.

Senate action

Meanwhile, the Senate killed SB 22, which would have given employers immunity for disclosing “misconduct, worker history or competency” on a work reference, unless he or she knows that the information is false. Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford. said that it was important that employers be frank to warn future employers of possible problems.

“There are some instances that a bad employee could do bad things that could be catastrophic,” he said.

But Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said that the law might prevent employees from complaining about the abuses of an employer because “revenge is a powerful motivator to give a bad reference. This could have a very chilling effect on the workforce.”

The Senate voted down the bill, 20-4.

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