A Potpourri of Frequently Asked Legal Questions

This month’s Q&A represents a departure from our usual single topic format. The staff attorneys of LGC’s Legal Services and Government Affairs Department answer thousands of questions each year posed by local officials from towns and cities both large and small. Following are some of those questions on various topics that we hope you will find useful to your work as a local official.

Town Managers vs. Town Administrators: What’s the Difference?

It would be hard to imagine any board of selectmen that could operate efficiently and effectively without the assistance of capable administrators and office staff. Selectmen are called upon to make many important decisions as they “manage the prudential affairs" of the town, and to do so, they often turn to town managers and town administrators to assist them.

Municipal Employee and Municipal Official – Is There a Difference?

Generally, when someone performs work with an expectation of compensation, an employment relationship is created. However, not everyone who “works" for a municipality is an employee. It can be difficult to distinguish between the employees, officials, volunteers and independent contractors who all perform work for a municipality. This article deals with the differences between municipal officials and municipal employees—and there are differences. As a general rule, elected and appointed officials are not employees of the municipality.

Customized Wage, Salary and Benefits Reports Offer Resource to Aid in Decision Making

Setting competitive wages and benefits is challenging, especially in the present economic climate. How do your municipality’s benefits compare to those of similar-sized municipalities? Are you concerned that your municipality is paying employees too much—or not enough?

Before Downsizing, Talk With Employees

By Gerri King, Ph.D.

During these difficult times, organizations in both the private and public sectors are desperately trying to find ways to reduce expenses and create budgets that will secure a future. An obvious approach is to lay people off.

Volunteers and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act

New Hampshire communities have a rich history of volunteerism. Whether it is experienced tradesmen donating their time to rewire the town hall or install new bathrooms in the library, teenagers helping out at the recreation summer program or the people who staff the table at the transfer station “swap shop," volunteers are an integral part of a community.

Beyond RSA 91-A: How Public Is That Information?

By C. Christine Fillmore, Esq.

A New Era of Collective Bargaining

Since its inception in 1975, New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations statute, RSA Chapter 273-A, has seen few changes. The Legislature has been content to allow the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) and New Hampshire Supreme Court to interpret the law and provide guidance to public employers and labor organizations on a broad variety of collective bargaining issues. However, during the last session, the Legislature passed two amendments to Chapter 273-A that may have profound implications for all public employers.

FMLA Expanded to Provide Leave for Exigencies and Family Care for Injured Military

On January 28, 2008, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA") was expanded when President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. As further explained, that Act included military-related amendments to allow FMLA leave for a qualifying exigency and to care for injured family members. These changes are effective immediately.

Union Authorization Cards: Change in New Hampshire Law

Until September 15, 2007, New Hampshire law provided that a union wanting to represent employees working for the state, a county, a city or a town would first ask employees to sign cards or a form indicating that the employee had an interest in the union. If the union got these cards signed by 30 percent or more of the employees it sought to represent, the union could file the cards with the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board and ask for a secret ballot election to determine if a majority of the employees wanted union representation.