In addition to the leave provided by your employer’s discretionary policies on vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or paid time off (PTO), you may have a legal right to take time off work for specific reasons under federal and New Hampshire laws. For example, if you are caring for an ailing family member or recovering from childbirth, you may have a right to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). New Hampshire law provides additional leave rights, including the right to time off for pregnancy disability, military leave, and more.
This article provides an overview of your right to time off from work in New Hampshire. For more information, see our page on employee leave rights.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child), recuperate from their own serious health conditions, bond with a new child, or handle certain practical matters arising from a family member’s military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffered or exacerbated a serious illness or injury while serving in the military. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a wider set of family members, including siblings, grandparents, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
The FMLA applies to employers in all states with at least 50 employees. Employees are eligible only if they have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. (Learn much more about your rights under the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some states have created laws that provide employees with leave for similar family and medical reasons. Sometimes these laws overlap with the FMLA and don’t create additional rights. Often, however, state law applies to a wider set of employers, has more relaxed eligibility requirements for employees, or covers a broader set of family members. New Hampshire provides additional rights to pregnancy disability leave.
In New Hampshire, employers with at least six employees must allow employees to take pregnancy disability leave. Employees may take time off while they are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. There is no set amount of time under this law; leave lasts for as long as the employee has a disability. The employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or a comparable position, unless business necessity makes this impossible or unreasonable.
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. (Find out all about USERRA in Taking Military Leave.) Employers may not discriminate against employees based on their military service. Employers also may not fire these employees for up to one year after they return from service, except for good cause, even if they would otherwise work at will. (See Employment At Will: What Does It Mean? to learn more.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military, including the right to take time off from work and to be reinstated afterwards. New Hampshire has passed this type of law, providing members of the state National Guard or militia called to active duty by the governor with the same leave and reinstatement rights and benefits guaranteed under USERRA.
Employers may not discriminate against employees because of their connection or service with the state National Guard or militia. Employers also may not try to dissuade employees from enlisting by threatening their jobs.
New Hampshire law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibility of serving on a jury. Employers must allow employees to take time off for jury duty and may not discourage employees from taking this time off.
Time off to serve on a jury is unpaid. However, special rules apply to exempt employees. Under federal law, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee’s pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. For more information, see our article on pay docking.
Most states also require employers to give employees time off, often with pay, to vote. However, New Hampshire does not have this type of law.