It is already a challenge for teens to find employment, but New Hampshire law puts an unfair hurdle in place for non-public school students. The statute is intended to ensure that students under age 16 would not face academic hardships due to employment and the authorizer, the public school principal or district superintendent, affirms or denies the certificate based on the student’s academic history. The current statute, RSA 276-A:5, presents an arbitrary burden for private, charter, and home educated students who seek employment certificates as it requires authorization by school administrators who are not involved in their education.
House Bill 1301 puts the authority in the hands of parents, as they know how their children are performing academically and what strain, if any, employment would put on their school work. Parents have access to their children’s academic performance information from the schools and are able to monitor it for signs of difficulties. They are also more likely to notice signs of distress before it appears on a report card. Obviously, if the student is homeschooled, the parents are already responsible for directing the child’s education and have an in-depth familiarity with the academic demands and performance.
Many superintendents find it awkward to be authorizers for students they do not know, so why not put the responsibility in the hands of the adults closest to them, their parents.
Opponents argued that the statute provides a safety net if the child is employed in a dangerous job. The assumption is unreasonable. That duty goes far beyond the scope of any superintendent’s responsibilities and is not the function of the authorization in this statute. The role is to oversee any impact the job has on the student’s academic performance; one that a parent may fulfill. Federal and state safety requirements are well established and are intended to protect all workers with consequences to employers who put their employees in jeopardy. That is not changed by this bill and these concerns go beyond the scope of this legislation. This bill also does not alter what kinds of employment youth may accept.
Additionally some critics claimed that parents may force their minor children into jobs and there would be no third-party adult to safeguard students. That speaks to a total distrust of parents and alleges they would put their children, or at least their academics, deliberately at risk.
RSA 276-A:4 already authorizes parents to approve employment for students aged 16 or 17 years old. HB 1301 is a logical extension of existing statute.
Because the House and Senate passed slightly different versions of the bill, they had to reconcile them in a Committee of Conference held last week. A new amendment was proposed, #2066C, and approved by the Committee. The Committee accepted the Senate’s provision to not require notarization and added new language to clarify a technical error to make parents, not superintendents, responsible for getting the paperwork to the NH Department of Labor.
Both the House and Senate will vote to accept or reject the Committee of Conference’s Ought to Pass with Amendment recommendation on Wednesday, June 1st. Please contact your state representatives and senator, urging them to vote YEA on OTP/A to support the bill. If the bill is approved by both bodies, then it will advance to the Governor’s desk.
Suggested Talking Points
— Current NH law puts an unfair hurdle in place for all non-public school students seeking employment.
— Current law forces public school superintendents and principals in a role of responsibility for students they do not know.
— This bill would put the responsibility in the hands of adults closest to the students, their parents, who would see evidence of academic distress well before it appears on a report card.
— The bill does not change any federal or state safety requirements that protect all workers with consequences to employers who put their employees in jeopardy.
— The bill also does not alter what types of jobs youth may accept.
— It is a logical extension of current statute because it already allows parents to approve employment for students aged 16 or 17 years old.
Brief and polite phone calls and emails are effective, especially if you mention you are a constituent. Personal stories can be particularly compelling.
To find your Representatives, go to “Who’s My Legislator?” Mass emails are far less effective, but the email for all Reps is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page, or you can email all of them at email@example.com.
Jeff Woodburn — District 1, Dalton
Jeanie Forrester — District 2, Meredith
Jeb Bradley — District 3, Wolfeboro
David Watters — District 4, Dover
David Pierce — District 5, Lebanon
Sam Cataldo — District 6, Farmington
Andrew Hosmer — District 7, Laconia
Gerald Little — District 8, Weare
Andy Sanborn — District 9, Bedford
Molly Kelly — District 10, Keene
Gary Daniels — District 11, Milford
Kevin Avard — District 12, Nashua
Bette Lasky — District 13, Nashua
Sharon Carson — District 14, Londonderry
Dan Feltes — District 15, Concord
David Boutin — District 16, Hooksett/Manchester
John Reagan — District 17, Deerfield
Donna Soucy — District 18, Manchester
Regina Birdsell — District 19, Hampstead/Windham/Derry
Lou D’Allesandro — District 20, Manchester
Martha Fuller Clark — District 21, Portsmouth
Chuck Morse — District 22, Salem
Russell Prescott — District 23, Kingston
Nancy Stiles — District 24, Hampton