House Bill 1301, the youth employment certificate bill is awaiting the Governor’s approval.
It is challenging for teens to find employment, but New Hampshire law puts an unfair hurdle in place for non-public school students. The existing 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. However 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.
This bill passed both the Senate and House in voice votes without any discussion. Hopefully this is a positive sign heading to the corner office.
Please contact Governor Hassan urging her to allow them to pass into law. Her phone number is 603-271-2121. Her office may also be contacted through their website. Alternatively you can email her staff, Amberlee Barbagallo, executive assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pamela Walsh, her Chief of Staff, at email@example.com.
Recommended 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 puts 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.
— At a time when people recognize that college is not for everyone and schools encourage more project-based learning, this makes basic common sense.