Currently, there is no state law in New Hampshire that requires private employers to provide an employee with access to paid or unpaid leave. Nonetheless, the majority of the companies offer it as a yearly benefit.
If an employer includes the benefit in the employment contract or makes it an established policy, the employer is then under a legal obligation to grant it.
On the other hand, a recent program called the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan was signed by Governor Chris Sununu. It covers all private and public employers with at least 50 employees who wish to voluntarily participate in the said program.
The benefit shall be provided to employees and will take full effect on the first day of January 2023. That said, employers will not directly fund the total cost of the paid leaves. Instead, they may purchase an FMLI or family and medical leave insurance from the winning bidder, which will then help fund the leave for the employees.
Because there are different types of leaves that an employee may be eligible to take, their qualifications vary. The eligibility requirements are as follows:
In New Hampshire, public employees of the state are eligible to use 7 1/2 days of sick leave per year. However, they can only qualify if they have been part of the agency for more than six months.
Additionally, state employees may begin to accrue additional paid sick leaves according to their years of service. State employees are also automatically covered by the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan once it’s in operation.
Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan
Under this medical leave plan, private employees whose employers choose to participate in the said program are eligible to take the paid leave. This program provides them with a total of six weeks of paid leave, from which they can receive up to 60% of their wage’s regular rate.
Employees reserve the right to contact the winning bidder for the leave if their employers choose not to offer the New Hampshire paid sick leave. The same is true if they fail to meet the minimum requirements needed for health care insurance coverage.
Paid Versus Unpaid Sick and Safe Leave
The latest New Hampshire sick leave law will only be in effect by 2023. This means there’s still no paid leave provided by the state to non-state or non-government employees.
On the other hand, New Hampshire employees are covered by the federal law called FMLA or Family and Medical Leave Act. This allows employees to take up to 12 weeks or up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition or for military reasons.
Sick and Safe Leave Accrual
The New Hampshire sick leave law does not specify a minimum number of required hours of work to accrue the wage payment. In addition, it also does not specify the number of months of employment to merit the same.
The Commissioner of Administrative Services has the full power to implement a tenure requirement. The said official may also impose a waiting period for new employees. This means that the regulations regarding the accrual of paid leave are yet to be established.
On the other hand, one of the requirements for employees to accrue unpaid sick leave under the FMLA is to work a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
Eligible employees may use the paid sick leave under the GSPFLP for any of the following reasons:
- An employee’s newborn child within the past 12 months
- The employee’s placement of a child for adoption or foster care within the past 12 months
- The employee or a family member suffers from a serious health condition (as defined by the FMLA law)
- Any other qualifying exigency brought about by military service of the employee or a family member, whether the exigency be regarding deployment or an injury during active duty
Family Member Defined
The GSPFLP uses the same definition of a “family member” as the FMLA, which is any of the following:
- Spouse – Husband, wife, or partner in same-sex marriages in states where it’s legal
- Son/daughter – Biological, adopted, stepchild, foster child, or child of an in loco parentis
- Parent – Biological, adoptive parent, foster parent, and stepfather/stepmother
For the FMLA and GSPFLP leaves, family members such as siblings, grandparents, and in-laws are excluded unless otherwise stated in the employee’s declared beneficiaries.
Sick and Safe Leave Use Requirements and Limits
The Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan states that the 60% wage payment coverage for the paid sick leave is limited or capped at the amended Social Security Taxable Wage Maximum for each employee.
Alternative Eligible Leave Policies
In addition to the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan, here are other alternative eligible leave policies in New Hampshire.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
This state law requires employers with six or more employees to provide their employees with leaves related to pregnancy, childbirth, and incapacity because of the aforementioned conditions.
The law states that pregnancy and/or childbirth must be addressed at the same level of temporary disability. Therefore, it should merit the same benefits, such as fringe benefits and protection from retaliation and discrimination.
Family and Medical Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law allowing an employee access to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition and 26 weeks of leave for military reasons.
Discrimination and Retaliation
The New Hampshire sick leave law and the Family and Medical Leave Act also prevents employment discrimination and retaliation. This means that employees who choose to use any of these paid and/or unpaid leave shall be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position upon their return.
Relationships with Other Laws
The New Hampshire sick leave law allows private and public employers to require employees to use paid family leave in co-occurrence with other leaves. These include the FMLA or other established leaves in the employment contract.
Suppose an employee takes six weeks of leave, but the employer requires him or her to concurrently use alternative eligible policies, such as the FMLA. In that case, the employee receives 60% of wage payment during these six weeks but is also exhausting the first six weeks of the 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave.