Family and Medical Leave

Citizens Count Editor

Paid family and medical leave insurance provides workers with paid time off if they become incapacitated due to illness or injury, need to care for an ill or injured family member, or have recently given birth to or adopted a child.

Family and medical leave insurance is sometimes offered voluntarily by employers and provided by private insurance companies, but can also be mandated by government bodies and managed as a public program.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act

While New Hampshire does not currently have a statewide paid family and medical leave program, there is a federal Family and Medical Leave Act. That law requires companies with over 50 employees to offer up to twelve weeks of unpaid family or medical leave. Employers must give employees back their jobs when they return to work. 

Under the FMLA, in a given year, eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of leave to:

  • Give birth to and take care of new baby, or care for a newly adopted child;
  • Take care of a sick spouse, child, or parent;
  • Recover from a debilitating illness;
  • Tend to urgent circumstances involving a spouse, son, daughter or parent in the military. 

Employees can also take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a year to care for a close family member who is an ill or injured servicemember. 

Intermittent leave

Instead of taking the 12 weeks of leave all at once, employees may take intermittent FMLA leave when it is medically necessary. For example, an individual might work fewer hours per week in order to receive scheduled treatments. When leave is needed for medical treatments, employees are expected to make a reasonable effort to coordinate their schedule with their employer. An employee may also take intermittent leave in larger blocks of time depending on the circumstance.

Drug rehab and FMLA

In some cases, it may be possible to take FMLA leave to enter drug rehab, but there are plenty of exceptions. For example, if the employee fails to give the employer advanced notice, or if an employer has a clear policy forbidding drug use. The Department of Labor also makes clear that FMLA leave can only be taken for substance abuse treatment provided by a health care provider or an entity referred by a health care provider. You can’t take FMLA leave simply because you are addicted to drugs.

Find answers to frequent FMLA questions on the Department of Labor’s website 

Debate over paid family and medical leave 

There is no state requirement that companies offer paid family and medical leave in New Hampshire. The Granite State also does not have a public family and medical leave program.

However, moves to change that policy have taken place in recent years. In 2018, a bill that would have created a family and medical leave program passed the New Hampshire House but died in the Senate.  The bill would have required employers to participate or offer equivalent family and medical leave coverage through private insurance. Employees would contribute 0.67% of their pay in exchange for six weeks of paid leave.  

In 2019, Governor Sununu vetoed SB 1, a family and medical leave plan that would have offered 12 weeks of leave paid at up to 60% of wages, funded with a 0.5% payroll tax. There was no provision to opt-out.

Sununu had lobbied for his own alternative plan run by a private insurer. Employees would choose whether or not to opt-into the program. The Legislature nixed this idea.

Next steps

What do you think? Should New Hampshire institute some form of paid family and medical leave? Or, should individual business owners continue to decide for themselves whether to offer such a perk? Let your legislator know what you think by sending them an email, giving them a call, or writing a letter.

Find your legislator’s contact information

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

“NH should create a paid family and medical leave insurance plan.”

  • Guaranteeing paid family and sick leave helps keep employees in the workplace and reduces the likelihood that they will end up requiring public assistance.
  • Since companies may not offer family leave voluntarily, particularly to lower-skilled or less-educated workers, government should ensure that employees retain the right to care for a sick family member or new child without risking their job or losing income.
  • The workforce in New Hampshire is growing older, which could lead to economic challenges. Offering paid family and medical leave could make the Granite State more appealing to younger workers, who are more likely to be considering starting a family. Medical leave would also help residents care for aging relatives.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 15% of private industry workers in the United States have access to paid family leave. This shows that private companies can’t be relied upon to voluntarily offer leave programs to their workers.
  • A family leave program doesn’t have to be a mandate on all workers. Participation could be voluntary, which gives workers the choice whether or not they want to pay their share to take part.

"Against" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

“NH should not create a paid family and medical leave insurance plan.”

  • Companies and workers should be free to negotiate their own policies on family and sick leave, vacation time, termination and other such protections, without government interference.
  • Paid sick or family leave requirements increase costs for employers by mandating that they purchase insurance, by requiring them to accommodate long-term absences, and/or through higher taxes. This ultimately impacts workers, as employers are less able to make new hires or increase pay.
  • Even a voluntary family leave program poses a potential risk to all New Hampshire taxpayers. If workers can choose whether or not to participate, it’s those most likely to need the program who will take part. This could lead to costs that outstrip revenues — ultimately leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.
  • The family leave program is not insurance, but in truth a new tax on employee wages. As such, a public family and medical leave program opens the door to a mandated income tax in New Hampshire.
  • Rather than create a public family and medical leave insurance program that cuts into employee wages, New Hampshire should consider ways to encourage workers to make the choice to build their savings accounts.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

In Committee

Establishes a social insurance program that would be operated by New Hampshire Employment Security to provide for paid family and medical leave insurance. Employers would pay 0.5% of wages per employee as premium payments. Employees could take up to twelve weeks of leave and receive 60% of their pay after paying into the program for at least six months. As introduced, this bill does not include an opt-out option.

Vetoed by Governor

Establishes a paid family and medical leave insurance program, which would be run by the state department of employment security. Employers would pay 0.5% of wages per employee as premium payments. Employees could take up to twelve weeks of leave and receive 60% of their pay after paying into the program for at least six months. The bill does not allow anyone to opt-out of the program.

Killed in the House

Provides family and medical leave to school district employees who have been employed by the school district for at least 12 months and who have worked at least 900 hours in the previous 12-month period. These employees are not otherwise eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Killed in the House

Establishes a committee to study business tax credits for companies that pay a liveable wage and provide adequate benefits to their employees.

Killed in the House

Establishes an aggregate annual tax credit of $10 million for 50% of the payments made by a business to an employee for paid maternity or paternity leave.

Killed in the Senate

Provides family and medical leave to certain school district employees who are not otherwise eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Interim Study

Establishes a social insurance program that would be operated by New Hampshire Employment Security to provide for paid family and medical leave insurance. Employers would pay 0.5% of wages per employee as premium payments. The House amended the bill to increase the employee contribution to 0.67%, to allow employees to opt out, and to limit benefits to six weeks of paid leave.

Tabled in the Senate

Provides family and medical leave to certain school district employees who are not otherwise eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Interim Study

Requires an employer to notify an employee of the benefits and adverse effects of signing an application for, or accepting time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act as a result of a workers' compensation injury.

Signed by Governor

Prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who requests a flexible work schedule.

Should NH create a paid family and medical leave insurance plan, paid for with a percentage of employee wages?

LEAVE A COMMENT

Log in or register to post comments

Issue Status

Gov. Sununu vetoed SB 1, a family and medical leave plan that would offer 12 weeks of leave paid at up to 60% of wages, funded with a 0.5% payroll tax. There was no provision to opt-out. 

The House and Senate had originally put that family and medical leave plan in their budgets, but cut them in conference committee. Gov. Sununu had threatened to veto the budget if family and medical leave was included in it. 

CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS » 

Here in NH, your opinion counts. We make it easy to find and reach out to your elected officials about the issues that matter most to you. Click to search and contact your elected officials!

Join Citizens Count

Join our constantly growing community. Membership is free and supports our efforts to help NH citizens become informed and engaged. 

JOIN TODAY ▸

©2018 Live Free or Die Alliance | The Live Free or Die Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.