New NH Law Protects Employees Who Request Flexible Schedule from Retaliation

With remote work and telecommuting more commonplace not to mention the many law in recent years that involve workplace accommodation and the cultural shift towards more of a work-life balance many employees are requesting flexible work schedules. Some employers are better equipped or more receptive to these requests than others. Now, there is a new law in New Hampshire that protects employees from retaliation after making such a request. This new law, from SB 416, will take effect on September 1, 2016. It will be inserted into RSA 275:37-b Flexible Working Arrangement. And it specifically provides that:

No employer shall retaliate against any employee solely because the employee requests a flexible work schedule.

It also provides that:

  • Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any employer to accommodate a flexible work schedule.
  • Nothing in this section shall be construed to create a cause of action for failure to provide a flexible work schedule at an employee’s request.

Sponsors and supports of the Bill said it would encourage employers and employees to have an open and direct conversation when scheduling needs arise. Examples of schedule change requests included coming in 30 minutes early so the employee could leave in time for his/her child’s soccer game, or regularly adjusting the employee’s schedule for pick up or drop off times for children or elderly or disabled family members. Supporters claim this new law will help with worker retention, worker productivity, and expand opportunity for all workers, especially women. Statistics reveal that forty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s workforce are women, many of whom may, at some point in their career, need a more flexible work schedule. This new law would protect employees from retaliation in response to such a request.

There were several proposed amendments to this Bill and if included they would have effectively changed the 2 hour reporting pay law to a 4 hour minimum and add other notice and protection provisions which could made it difficult for employers to deny those requests. Again, those amendments weren’t part of the final Bill as adopted.

For now, just with FMLA, ADAAA and other flexible work schedule requests, employers need to at least discuss the proposal and how it would impact the job and workplace. While this law doesn’t require that those requests be granted it does protect the employee from an adverse response to the request.