Paid Family & Medical Leave Act heading to the House floor
SANTA FE, N.M. — The end of the 30-day legislative session is looming. Lawmakers have until Thursday at noon to approve any proposals.
One of the bills nearing the finish line is the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. Democratic state lawmakers have been working on this proposal for years. After a big win in the Senate Friday night and another stamp of approval from a House committee Monday morning, it seems this could be the year it finally crosses the finish line.
The proposal is working to give all New Mexico workers paid time off when they need it most – even if their jobs don’t currently offer it. That’s the big picture goal, but there have been many changes to the bill.
As of right now, New Mexico workers would be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off to bond with a new child or grieve the death of a child.
Workers could also take time off to care for themselves or family members dealing with serious medical issues. There’s also a “safe leave” category for employees recovering from domestic violence. Both of these instances would only qualify for nine weeks off.
Military leave is no longer in the bill.
As for funding, both employees and employers with more than five workers would contribute to a state fund to pay the workers on leave. For every $1,000 in wages, it’s $5 for workers and $4 for employers.
So, someone making $50,000 could expect to pay $250 for this, while their employers pay $200.
Those contributions would begin in 2026. Workers could start taking time off the next year, but only after six months of contributions, and they’re required to give their employers a 20-day notice.
Lawmakers say they will have to work together to figure out how their leave will work.
Supporters say a program like this will not only allow more New Mexicans – mostly women – to enter the workforce, but it also gives small businesses the same benefits as bigger corporations.
However, the business community is firmly against the bill, and so are Republican lawmakers.
Opponents say 12 weeks off is just too much for most businesses to manage and argue the list of qualifying circumstances is too broad.
Lawmakers have tweaked the bill to address some of those concerns, but leaders with the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce say it’s still not enough for them to support this program.
“There is not a single business organization that I am aware of who supports this bill,” said Terri Cole, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “This bill is bad for business. And that is why we are working hard to defeat it.”
Many business owners say they do support the idea of paid family leave and believe there is a potential compromise out there, but they say this current version is just too much, too fast.
The bill only needs to clear a House floor vote to reach the governor’s desk.
A proposed Paid Family and Medical Leave Program is one step closer to reality in New Mexico.— Griffin Rushton (@GriffinRushton) February 12, 2024
SB 3 cleared its one and only house committee this morning after it was approved by the senate Friday night. It only needs to clear the house floor to reach the governor's desk. @KOB4