Safety plan law survives, but awaits amendment in House

It looks as if the New Hampshire Legislature won’t repeal the law requiring that businesses file safety plans, although they might loosen the measure up a bit.The House Labor Committee recommended killing a repeal bill (House Bill 1661), but committee chair Rep. Gary Daniels, R-Milford, said he plans to amend another bill (H.B. 1587) to increase the employee threshold to 15 before a business has to meet requirements of the law. The threshold currently is five workers for some requirements of the law and 10 workers for others.On Tuesday, the committee was still grappling over whether that threshold should be five full-time equivalents, or if it should include part-time workers.Daniels said he also wants to exempt businesses from having to file a summary of the plan every two years if they don’t have accidents or violations, though the committee still has to specify whether minor injuries or violations count — as well as what constitutes “minor.””It does keep the safety programs around,” said Daniels. “But there is an incentive that they don’t have to do the paperwork.”Daniels said that some people might choose to file anyway, because it may qualify them for a workers’ compensation discount.The filing is a two-page summary, said Labor Department attorney Marty Jenkins, and it usually consists of any changes made to a firm’s safety committee. “We mainly make them file to make sure they are still doing it and it is an active committee.”Some Democrats expressed reservation about the bill, arguing that it is important that employers be required to update their plans.”In two years, things could change dramatically with a company,” said Rep. Jeffrey Goley, D-Manchester.Here are some other labor-related measures being considered in the Legislature:• The House Labor Committee recommended enabling the Department of Employment Security to garnish wages of those who get overpaid in unemployment compensation because they didn’t report that they’ve got work (H.B. 1579). That should to amount to some $8.4 million of the $22 million in annual overpayments, the committee was told. Most other overpayments are due to honest errors. The Department would also tack on 20 percent interest. The bill was amended to give workers due process rights.• The House committee also recommended killing a bill that would require that businesses prorate benefits for part-time workers. Even Democrats agreed that it would have been unworkable for health insurance.• At the Senate Commerce Committee, the Department of Labor opposed a bill (Senate Bill 341) that would allow employers to pay workers electronically, even if the employees preferred to be paid by check. The agency argued that there are people who don’t have bank accounts, and who for whatever reason don’t want bank accounts. The committee has yet to make a decision about that one. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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