A group of legislators, advocates and individuals celebrated the start of New Mexico’s Paid Sick Leave law, which officially starts Friday.
The Paid Sick Leave bill passed after a bitter fight between Democrats in the state Senate in the final hours before the legislature ended. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill.
State Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said the sponsors of the bill agreed to let the bill go into effect on July 1, 2022 instead of July 1, 2021 as a compromise with New Mexico businesses who said they could not afford to provide paid sick leave, particularly after being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart said there was an attempt to weaken the law before the start of the 2022 legislature but no bill was ever introduced.
State Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, who also sponsored the Paid Sick Leave bill, said the law will have positive effects on businesses as well as employees because studies show that workers have higher morale when they can take time off to care for themselves and their families.
The law will allow every worker in the state to earn one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked and to earn up to 64 hours of paid time off. The law allows workers to take time off to care for themselves as well as for a family member. A worker can take time off for mental health as well as physical health and can ask for time off for an appointment, treatment, illness or injury.
Stewart said the state is studying paid family medical leave currently and said there will likely be a bill on that issue in the 2023 legislative session.
The Paid Sick Leave law also allows individuals to take time off if they or a family member are victims of stalking, domestic violence or sexual assault.
State Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, who also sponsored the bill, called New Mexico a “beacon for the rest of the country.”
A worker, Steve Orgeron said during the press conference that he fell ill earlier this year and faced difficulties at work because he didn’t have paid time off.
“It’s not fair,” he said.