In late June Governor Hassan signed HB 1301, a bill that allows parents, not just public school superintendents, to sign youth employment certificates for students under age 16. The new law went into effect as of August 23, 2016.
Prior to the changes by HB 1301, RSA 276-A:5, a section of the Youth Employment Law, presented an unfair hurdle for all non-public school students. It was intended to ensure that students under 16 would not face academic hardships due to employment and the authorizer, the public school principal or district superintendent, would affirm or deny the certificate based on the student’s academic history. However the statue was an arbitrary burden for students in private or charter schools, or home education programs as the local district administrations were not involved in their education.
HB 1301 recognizes that parents know how their children are performing academically and what strain, if any, employment may place on their school work. The new law also acknowledges that many superintendents find it awkward to be authorizers for students they do not know.
The Department of Labor has a notice posted prominently on their home page; the Youth Employment FAQ does not address the update.
Although it has only been in effect a month, two families have informed us that they are enjoying the benefits of the new law. One had a positive interaction with the Department of Labor, but the other one was a bit hassled and repeatedly told that it is easier to work with the local SAU superintendent. The second family contacted their local superintendent to obtain the Youth Employment Certificate, and not surprisingly, the SAU office was unaware of the new law.
The NH Youth Employment Certificate is available from the Department of Labor if parents wish to issue the certificate or students may still go through their local school district office. The Department sends the certificate with an overview of the child labor laws and a self-addressed stamped envelope. The required form is in triplicate with one carbon-copy going to the employer who must keep it on file per state law, and the other to the DOL who “uses it to make sure the youth is working for a ‘safe’ employer.” It is unclear how a carbon-copy form ensures a “safe employer.” At this time the Department of Labor does not intend to put the form online. This is particularly odd given that other forms are posted on their website. Their process seems needlessly inefficient and expensive; the state could save money by putting the certificate online and requiring families to provide copies to the employer and DOL as it does with other forms. If carbon copies are the Departments way of monitoring which families are certifying the Youth Employment Certificates, how is putting it available online significantly different than providing a stack of certificates to SAU offices across the state? Hopefully the Department of Labor will find a way to be more efficient as the new law becomes more familiar and widely used.
How to Issue the Certificate
To meet youth employment law, employers file a Employer’s Request for Child Labor form officially requesting the Youth Employment Certificate. If the youth is between the ages of 12 and 15, the local school district office or parents must complete the Youth Employment Certificate, available from the state Department of Labor, and the Verification of Adequate Health of Child forms and return them to the employer and DOL. If the youth is aged 16 or 17, the parent must complete a different form. These papers must be on file with the employer within three business days of starting the job. Parental permission is not needed for youth aged 18 and older.
Students have some restrictions regarding how many hours they may work during the typical school week and academic year, and how many may be at night. Homeschoolers do not need to conform to the local school district for the academic calendar for school days or hours. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), only applies if the business engages in interstate commerce or has an annual dollar volume of sales or business done of at least $500K. If that does not apply, then NH law which allows parents to set their own academic calendar, is the only applicable law. More information about youth work hours is available on the Department’s FAQ page.
The NH Department of Labor may be reached at 603-271-3176 and their offices are at 95 Pleasant Street in Concord.
The entire statute on youth employment, RSA 276-A, is available here.