It's Your Job - These Are Your Rights
Do I have responsibilities to my employer?
Yes. Workers have responsibilities to their employers--just as employers have responsibilities to the people who work for them. Your responsibilities to your employer include:
- Getting to work on time
- Doing a good job for the hours you're paid
- Calling in if you're sick or going to be late
- Dressing appropriately for your work
- Asking questions if you don't understand
What is the minimum wage?
- Federal law entitles you to at least the minimum wage.
- For most jobs, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
If you do not receive the minimum wage, call the NH Department of Labor at 603-271-3176, or the US Department of Labor's Manchester, NH office at 603-666-7716.
Must I be paid for all the hours I work?
- Yes, unless you are an "exempt" employee. (Most hourly workers are not exempt and must be paid for all the hours they work.
When do I get overtime pay?
- You're entitled to time-and-a-half for any hours you work over 40 hours a week. Time-and-a-half equals 1-1/2 times your hourly pay rate.
If you are not paid for all your hours, do not receive minimum wage, or do not receive time-and a half overtime, talk to your employer, call the NH Department of Labor at 603-271-3176, or the US Department of Labor's Manchester, NH office at 603-666-7716, or discuss it with your union.
Can I work "off the clock" or "off the books?"
- "Off the Clock" Work: If an employer asks you to work and doesn't pay you for that time worked, it's called working "off the clock." For example, if you're required to come to work early or stay late and aren't paid for this time, then you're working "off the clock." "Off the clock" work is illegal.
- "Off the Books" Work: If an employer asks you to work "off the books" or "under the table," the employer is not going to report your earnings to the appropriate federal or state governmental agency. It also means that you may not be covered by workers' compensation, Social Security, or other kinds of coverages. "Off the books" work is illegal. If the employer is paying you in cash instead of with a check, your work is probably "off the books."
What happens if I'm sick?
- Let your employer know promptly if you can't come to work. Say when you expect to return.
- An employer isn't required to pay you if you're sick. Some jobs do offer paid sick leave, though.
- After you've worked a year for an employer, you may be entitled to unpaid leave if you're ill, having a baby, or caring for a sick family member under the Family & Medical Leave Act.
- For information about the Family and Medical Leave Act, call the US Department of Labor's New Hampshire office at 603-666-7716.
What if I get hurt on the job?
- Your employer's workers' compensation plan will pay your medical costs if you're injured on the job.
- Your employer's workers' compensation plan may also pay some of your lost wages if you have to miss work because of the injury.
- If you get hurt at work, immediately tell your employer and your doctor.
- For more information about workers' compensation, click here.
What if my job isn't safe?
- Tell your Employer about any unsafe conditions. Federal and State Law require your employer to provide a healthy and safe work environment. If your employer does not address your concerns, you can file a complaint with OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives employees and their representatives the right to file a complaint and request an OSHA inspection of their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or their employer is not following OSHA standards. Workers do not have to know whether a specific OSHA standard has been violated in order to file a complaint.
Complaints from workers or their representatives are taken seriously by OSHA. OSHA will keep your information confidential.
Am I protected from discrimination and harassment?
- You can't be discriminated against because of your race, color, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, or political affiliation or beliefs.
- You are entitled to work in an environment that's free from sexual or racial harassment or abuse.
- If you have been discriminated against at work, you can call the NH Commission for Human Rights at 271-2767.
Can I lose my job for any reason?
- Most jobs in NH are "employment-at-will." The employer may discharge you any time, with or without cause. (However, you cannot be fired for reasons of race, color, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, or political affiliation or beliefs, as explained above.)
What if I am laid-off?
- If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits from the NH Department of Employment Security ("NH Works") provided you've worked long enough to be eligible. You'll receive an unemployment check for a limited time while you look for a new job. To find your local office, call 1-800-852-3400 or 603-224-3311.
- In addition, NH Employment Security can provide help you look for a new job.
- Some workers are eligible for job training through NH Employment Security.
Am I protected in other ways?
- You have the right to join a union. Under federal law, your employer can't punish you for exercising your right to join a union and participate in union activities. Many workers join unions to protect themselves from the employer's right to fire at-will. Collectively bargained union agreements require that good and just cause exist before a worker is fired. You also can ask your union for help with other workplace problems. For information, contact the New Hampshire AFL-CIO at 603-623-7302.
- Be careful. Even though it is against the law, many employers fire workers who try to bring a union to their workplace.
Adapted with permission from a publication by the Working for America Institute.