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.

Paid family and medical leave in NH

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.  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.  The bill stalled in the Senate due to disagreement over a provision that allowed employees to opt-out of the program if they choose—a move opponents argued would make the program financially unsustainable. Read more about this bill.

Federal family leave rules

There are no federal rules requiring paid family and medical leave. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act does require companies with over 50 employees to offer up to twelve weeks of unpaid family or medical leave. 

Learn more about the FMLA

Paid family and medical leave in other states

A small number of states do require companies to offer paid family leave time. These laws often require an employee to have worked for a company for a set period of time or number of hours before being eligible to receive paid leave.  The leave time is paid for out of an additional payroll tax.

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 potentially leads to economic challenges. Read more about this issue. 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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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Issue Status

Democrats who now hold a majority in both branches of the Legislature have stated they will make another push for a family and medical leave bill this year. Last year, the party argued for a state-run plan that included all NH workers, unless they individually chose to opt-out. Sununu has presented an alternative plan that uses public employees as a starting pool for a private insurance market in NH that private employees could choose to join. 

Democrat Rep. Mary Jane Wallner has proposed a bill relative to a family and medical leave insurance program for 2019. The details are not yet known, but she proposed another bill on the same subject last year.

See our predictions for the fate of this and other issues in 2019

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