BY: Citizens Count
Employers in New Hampshire are not required to offer paid sick days. Many choose to do so anyway.
- It’s up to the employer how sick days are earned or granted, and whether they allow sick days to be carried forward from year-to-year or not.
- Employers also get to choose whether employees can ‘cash out’ their sick days at the end of the year or when they leave the job.
Rules and restrictions
Employers who offer paid sick days in New Hampshire have to give their employees written notice of their sick leave policies.
Federal regulations also generally limit the ability of employers to deduct a salaried employee’s paycheck if they stay home because they’re sick—even if the company lacks a sick time policy.
There are some limited exceptions to this, such as whether the employee takes leave time under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which is unpaid, or if the employee performs no work for an entire pay period.
Anti-discrimination laws can also come into play. If an employee has an illness that qualifies as a disability, then employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations” to enable that employee to keep his or her job. That can include giving them leave until they’re able to work again.
Sick days vs. family and medical leave
Though employers in New Hampshire aren’t required to give paid sick days, all U.S. employers are required by federal law to give employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for a “serious health condition” of their own or of an immediate family member.
New Hampshire is currently debating creating a statewide paid family and medical leave plan.
Public employees and sick days
New Hampshire law doesn’t address sick days for public employees any differently than for private employees. However, the state’s various public employee unions, from teachers to police and firefighters, currently all negotiate paid sick time for their workers into their contracts.
Sick day policy in other states
According to the NCSL, ten states and Washington D.C. currently require employers to offer paid sick leave. That includes Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Ongoing debate about sick day policy in NH
The New Hampshire Legislature has previously considered bills that would have required private employers to offer a minimum number of paid sick days to their employees. So far, none of those have succeeded in passing.
Supporters of these policies argue that forcing workers to choose between going without pay or showing up to work sick increases the risk they’ll get hurt at work or spread illness to other employees.
Opponents argue it isn’t for government to decide how businesses should address sick leave. Instead, business owners should have the freedom to use their own judgement in the matter, while workers can opt to negotiate for paid sick leave if they want it, either on their own or through a union.