House Votes to Bar Credit History in Hiring Process

by Garry Rayno, State House Bureau

Published in the Union Leader on April 17, 2014

CONCORD – The House Tuesday voted 192-142 to approve Senate Bill 295, which bars using a person’s credit history in employment decisions.

Supporters said a person’s credit history does not predict job performance nor does it change a person’s intelligence or skills.

Given the recent recession and long-term unemployment experienced by some workers, credit reports are a growing barrier to employment for many, they said.

“A negative credit history is a growing barrier to employment for very good people,” said Rep. Andrew White. “Credit history in no way is a predictor of job performance. Private information should be private whenever possible.”

But opponents said government should not deny employers the tools they have now to judge a job applicant.

And they said many high security jobs require a credit check for an applicant and the change could convince companies not to come to the state.

Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, said a person’s credit history is a good indicator of who will be a responsible employee with good judgment.

“Why is it necessary for the state to intervene with companies to tell them they cannot use a viable vetting (mechanism) to determine if someone will be a good employee,” Hoell said.

He noted defense firms and other employers that require security clearance for employees have to check the credit history of the people they hire.

“It would not benefit New Hampshire to have this law,” Hoell said. “There are a lot of defense contractors and employers here who would be affected by this law.”

But Rep. Sally Kelly, D-Chichester, said there are exemptions in the bill for such things as federal contracts and financial institutions.

“If someone has a bad credit history but excellent job history, chances are he or she will not be hired,” Kelly said. “This removes a huge barrier to New Hampshire workers to being employed.”

She noted the recent recession has resulted in long-term unemployment for many workers who are faced with tough decisions about which bills to pay.

“Their credit report looks very different than it did four years ago,” Kelly said. “What didn’t change is their intelligence, their job skills, their work ethics: all those things that affect their job.”

The House changed the bill to reflect the language it passed earlier this session in a House bill.

House and Senate negotiators are likely to have to reconcile the two versions of the bill in a conference committee later this session.

Last session, a similar bill died when a conference committee could not agree on a compromise.

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