Republican legislators in the New Hampshire House of Representatives want to change the current labor laws to allow kids to work “any time” of the day or night, remove requirements to display wage and discrimination laws, and handicap the State Department of Labor.
State Rep. Laurie Sanborn (Bedford), introduced the self titled “Red Tape Reduction Act” (HB1762-FN) aimed at what she says is to “reduce the excessive and unnecessary documentation and regulatory (red tape) burdens.” She claims that these “burdens” are inhibiting employers from hiring and growing their businesses.
What it really does it make it easier for employers to screw over workers and reduces the penalties if they get caught.
Some of the “burdens” that Rep. Sanborn wants to eliminate:
- Eliminate the requirement to pay a worker “two hours of pay” when they show up to work and their shift is canceled
- Eliminated the employees right to refuse to take part in “tip sharing”
- Allow 16-17 year olds to “work any hours” and eliminates the Department of Labor’s requirement to randomly inspect worksites with young workers
- Make unpaid interns responsible for their own Workers Compensation Insurance
- Create a new “volunteer” worker category where an employee can “volunteer to learn” while working, without pay for up to 6 months
- Remove the requirement to display safety, wage, hour, and discrimination laws in highly visible or “conspicuous” space
- Removes the requirement that all wages and payment schedule changes must be made in writing
- Changes the rules about employers providing uniforms and apparel with the “company logo” to be used in the work environment. (First uniform is free but employee may be required to pay for additional uniforms.)
- Eliminate the Department of Labor’s rulemaking authority regarding wages and child labor laws; all relevant rulemaking changes must go through the legislature
- Eliminate need for employers to file a “written safety plan, joint loss management committee, and safety summary form”
- Expands the Department of Labor’s ability to waive fines, offers a 30 grace period on violations to avoid fines, and eliminates a number of mandatory fines for things like: “failure to pay a worker on time”, “failure to pay a worker in full”, and “requiring an employee to perform any illegal activities under threat of job loss.”
Of all of these the most egregious is the changes to child labor law allowing 16-17 year olds to work “any hours” of the day and night. These are high school kids. Should they be working overnight shifts at the local mini-mart or working till midnight at the local fast food joint? No. These hour restrictions were put in place to ensure that children do not work too much or too late because it would have a detrimental affect on their education.
Under this new bill it would be the employee’s responsibility to know all of the laws concerning wages, overtime, discrimination, and safety regulations yet the employer is no longer required to display them. Does anyone actually think a 16 year old in their first job knows anything about child labor laws?
There have also been a couple of bills to increase the minimum wage with a caveat for 16-17 year old workers. These young workers would be allowed to work a sub-minimum wage or “training wage”. Rep. Sanborn’s proposed legislation coupled with the proposed “training wage” would allow employers to hire 16-17 year olds to work any time at a rate below the state’s minimum wage. How many low-wage workers would lose their jobs only to be replaced by 16-17 year olds earning “training” wages?
The bill has a number of co-sponsors, including Laurie’s husband, and first Congressional District Candidate, Sen. Andy Sanborn. The Sanborn’s have used their small business, The Draft bar and grill, to justify their votes against raising the minimum wage and eliminating the tipped minimum wage. In 2014, in a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Andy Sanborn called a minimum wage increase to $9.00 an hour a “job killer” but failed to mention how much a minimum wage increase would impact his personal business.
These proposed changes would also force reductions in the Department of Labor’s annual budget. The Department of Labor estimates that the proposed changes would have cost the state over $500,000 dollars in fines paid over the last three years. They also noted that the new regulations would require a “follow up inspection” which would “decrease in worker efficiency” and decrease the number of worksites inspected each year.
New Hampshire already has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. There are lots of jobs available but many of our young adult workers are leaving New Hampshire in search of better wages in other states. Repealing these regulations will do nothing to help spur growth in our economy but it will allow employers to cheat worker without any fear of penalty.
Honestly does anyone really believe that removing the requirement to display wage and discrimination laws will somehow create jobs? Are they really expanding jobs and boosting the economy by hiring unpaid interns and “volunteer” workers?
This race to the bottom must end. We need in strengthen our labor laws not destroy them. We need to empower the Department of Labor to inflict harsher penalties on employers who violate the law not lessen worksite inspections and eliminate fines. This would be a step back for the hard working people of the Granite State if this somehow makes it through.
Full copy of the proposed legislation belowHB1762