Paid medical leave bill to be heard in first House committee Friday

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SANTA FE, N.M. — The Paid Family & Medical Leave Act is scheduled to arrive in its first House committee Friday after clearing the Senate last weekend.

Senate Bill 11 wants to follow nearly a dozen other states in creating a state-run family and medical leave program. The bill’s sponsors believe New Mexico workers shouldn’t have to decide between keeping their jobs and their health, families, or overall well-being.

According to the bill, workers could take up to 12 weeks of paid time off in a variety of circumstances.

Those circumstances include:

  • Family leave – such as bonding with a new child or grieving a death
  • Safe leave – such as recovering from or taking care of a family member who’s suffered abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
  • Medical leave – which also applies to an employee taking care of a family member

In order to receive paid leave, employees would need to file a claim with the Department of Workforce Solutions and that includes submitting relevant documents and medical records.

According to the proposal, the department would have to approve or deny claims within 10 days. The bill does not say if workers are required to notify their employers about taking paid leave.

Once on leave, employees would receive weekly payments from the paid Family and Medical Leave Fund. Those payments would equal the state’s minimum wage, plus 67% of the worker’s original wage.

However, weekly payments cannot exceed the state’s average. Right now, the maximum weekly payment would be $997.

So where does that money come from? Employees and employers. According to the bill, workers would contribute .5% of wages to the fund, while employers would contribute .4%. The bill would eventually allow the Department of Workforce Solutions to raise or lower those rates as needed.

New Mexico workers must contribute to the fund for six months to become eligible for paid leave, and employers are required to provide them with a position of equal standing once they return.

The bill includes some exceptions, like businesses with less than five employees. They can opt out of employer contributions. Also, businesses with a substantially similar paid leave program can apply for a waiver.

Workers would not be able to file claims until 2026. However, those worker and employer contributions would start in 2025.

Click on the video above for the full story, including concerns about the proposal.

Track SB 11 during the legislative session.

Editor’s Note – The original version of this story included several errors we aim to correct.

  • A new version of the bill includes a provision requiring employees disclose their intention to take paid leave to their employer. The bill also allows employers to appeal
  • The contribution requirements from employees and employers were flipped in the original story. The bill states employees will be required to contribute 0.5% of their wages, employers would be required to contribute 0.4% of wages to the fund.