Minimum Wage Laws in New Hampshire
It seems like a small thing, but there is one major way New Hampshire is different from every other New England state: the minimum wage. Our state has the lowest minimum wage of any neighboring state by far. This can sometimes lead to issues, especially for jobs that actually earn less than minimum wage.
To better understand why this is a problem, we need to look at New Hampshire’s minimum wage laws and explore what happens when employees have disputes about their wages.
What is the Minimum Wage in New Hampshire?
Like many other states, New Hampshire has a $7.25 minimum wage. That is the federal minimum, and it is $3/hr less than the minimum wage in any surrounding state. According to the New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Bureau, roughly 11,000 New Hampshire residents (about 1% of the workforce) make minimum wage or less. Approximately 144,000 employees (21% of the workforce) make less than $15/hr.
This minimum wage issue is a little more complex than it initially appears. There are a few reasons for that: Some full-time jobs make less than minimum wage. Other positions have no minimum wage. On top of that, the state legislature has moved to restrict the impact of a federal minimum wage increase while also allowing employers to pay their employees less than minimum wage.
Are you facing a minimum wage dispute? Call Upton & Hatfield, LLP today at (603) 716-9777 or contact us online to learn more about the minimum wage in NH!
Which Jobs Don't Pay Minimum Wage?
The term “minimum wage” is a misleading one in New Hampshire. There are several jobs where minimum wage simply does not apply, and employers are permitted to offer wages lower than the federal minimum wage.
Some of these jobs include:
- Golf caddies
- Commission-based sales employees
- Newspaper delivery
- Summer camp employees
- Certain ski resort employees
- Farm laborers
Additionally, your employer can work against you to reduce your minimum wage even if you are not a tipped employee. If you have less than six months of experience in a profession, your employer can file a claim with the Department of Labor to have your wage reduced by $1.80 per hour (resulting in an hourly wage of $5.44). They can also do this in the case of disabled workers on a work training program.
Similarly, high school students and even full-time college students over the age of 18 can, in some circumstances, be paid at a rate that is lower than minimum wage.
If you are ever in a position where an employer offers you less than minimum wage, especially if you already agreed upon a higher wage, you should immediately contact an experienced employment law attorney.
What is the Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees?
Tipped employees in New Hampshire can be paid as little as $3.27/hr. This is not exclusive to restaurant servers. It also includes hotel employees and anyone who regularly receives more than $30 in tips per month.
Not only that, but Governor Sununu signed a bill in 2021 that changed the minimum wage for tipped employees from 45% of the minimum wage to a specific $3.27 per hour, meaning the tipped minimum wage won’t change, even if the federal minimum wage were to increase.
Under New Hampshire law, a minimum wage services worker who receives even a few small tips could potentially cut their wages in half if their employer desires. If you don’t regularly receive tips and this happens to you, you should contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible to dispute your pay.
The silver lining of tipped wages is that if the tipped worker does not make minimum wage through tips, the employer must cover the difference between tipped earnings and the actual $7.25 minimum wage.
In other words, if a tipped employee doesn’t make $290 per week, the employer must adjust their pay so their combined earnings reach that amount. If the employer is resistant to this, the tipped employee may have standing in a wage violation claim.
Likewise, the employer may not withhold, divert, claim, or use employee tips. In other words, if your employer or boss attempts to claim your tips, you may have the standing to file an employment law claim for stolen wages.
Similarly, tips are considered your belongings. There is no requirement in New Hampshire that you pool tips, even if generally agreed upon at your place of employment. If your employer coerces you into putting your tips in a pool, you should contact an employment law attorney.
Let Our Attorneys Fight For Your Rights
It doesn’t matter how much you make; when an employer violates your employee rights and takes your rightfully-earned wages, you have the right to file a claim against them to pursue the compensation you are entitled to. If you are ever unsure whether you have a case, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call the offices of Upton & Hatfield, LLP .