New Mexico legislators debate paid medical leave

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SANTA FE, N.M. — State lawmakers are considering a bill that would give New Mexicans the option to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off, but only in three specific situations.

The first is for families to bond with a new child. The second scenario is for employees who are a victim or whose family member is the victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. The third is for those taking care of themselves or family members facing a severe health condition.

“We have a large number of low-income employees in this state, they need this,” said Sen. Mimi Stewart, a sponsor of Senate Bill 11.

However, the fine print of the bill has many business leaders on edge.

“There is a big strain on the workforce as it is,” said Bridget Dixson, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. “And I think what ends up happening, I think people are going to end up being more – it’s going to cause a more hostile work environment, there’s going to be some resentment from the employees that are there in the trenches, working even longer hours than what they currently are.”

According to the bill, both workers and employers would have to pay into the Family and Medical Leave Act Fund. That’s what pays employees during their time off.

The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill along party lines Thursday. It now heads to the Senate floor next.

Track SB 11 during the legislative session.