A invoice to determine paid family and medical go away might be filed in January

A bill to create paid family and sick leave for all employees in the state is due to be tabled in January.

The bill would allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid vacation per year for a serious medical problem, bring home a new child, or care for a family member with a serious medical problem.

The effort is not new. Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Las Alamos, has sponsored similar bills in 2019 and 2020 and will be the main sponsor of the upcoming bill for 2021. HB 16 never went to committee in 2020. HB 264 died in the committee in 2019.

Chandler called the bill “very important”.

“I think this pandemic shows how much we need safety nets for people and how people can get an income and care for childcare needs and family members that are so important to workers and employers,” she said.

Terrelene Massey, Diné (of the Navajo Nation) and executive director of the Southwest Women’s Law Center, said if the benefits were already there, people who work in the retail, hotel and food industries in particular would have been better off with the COVID-19 -Pandemic.

“Right now, people are dependent on unemployment,” said Massey, when employees need time off because of serious illness or childcare.

The bill hasn’t really changed since the 2020 legislation, said Tracy McDaniel, a political advocate for the Southwest Women’s Law Center. The only change is that the bill would give the Department of Workforce Solutions, which would administer the program, more time to set up.

“The state needs a little more time due to the pandemic and economic problems and the effects on the Department of Workforce Solutions. You need more time to prepare for this, ”said McDaniel.

The Department of Workforce Solutions would manage a trust to which both employees and employers would contribute from July 1, 2023. Employees could take paid family and sick leave from January 1, 2024.

The employee and employer contributions are minimal, McDaniel said. The employee contribution is five tenths of a percent per paycheck. For employers, the contribution is four tenths of a percent per wage period. Employers would submit contributions quarterly, McDaniel said.

For the self-employed, the contribution would be nine tenths of a percent, as they would pay both the employee and the employer contributions.

Workers who patch multiple part-time jobs together with their multiple employers would contribute to the fund, McDaniel said.

“The idea behind this is that everyone pays very small contributions. This goes unnoticed on a paycheck as everyone pays and contributes, ”said McDaniel.

Time wouldn’t go by. Employees get up to 12 weeks per year.

When the bill goes into effect, the state would initially set up a fund with an investment of $ 1 million. The state would generate a return on that investment of $ 1 million through employee-employer contributions over the first 10 years of the program, McDaniel said.

The family and sick leave paid bill is not to be confused with the paid sick leave bill, which is also expected to be filed in January, McDaniel said. The paid sick leave bill would require all companies, regardless of size, to give one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work.

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But the family and vacation bill paid would allow workers to take time off for medical vacation when they have one-off medical events like a diagnosis of cancer, she said.

Chandler said this is a bill that employers should also consider important as it creates an environment for higher work ethics and employers know that their employees can take time off for a major health event to bring home a new child or bringing care for a family member with a serious illness who prevents employees from stepping down due to an overload.

“It’s as good for employers as it is for employees,” she said.

McDaniel said there is evidence that such a policy can have positive effects.

“There is good evidence that this improves employee performance and engagement. As soon as they return to work after a break, they are more likely to be engaged. They have higher morale and job satisfaction, ”said McDaniel.

According to Massey, the Southwest Women’s Law Center would like to work with companies in the state to hear their ideas about the law.

“We want companies to come to the table with us,” said Massey. “Talk about ideas so we can implement them. We want them at the table and we welcome them. “

McDaniel said if the bill becomes law, small business owners would be better equipped to compete with big companies.

She said some large New Mexico employers are already offering their employees similar paid and family health vacation packages.

“We are a small business state. We need to be able to offer this system so that small businesses can compete for their talent, ”she said.

There’s another reason this is good policy for 2021, McDaniel said.

She said there is evidence that paid family leave and medical leave can help reduce some racial gaps in the workforce.

“People of color are more on the fringes of our economy. Often times they don’t have access to private programs through their employers like white workers, ”she said. “This balances the playing field.”

Given the racial and ethnic differences that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore in public discussions, the Southwest Women’s Law Center believes this type of data is “meaningful” to a law, McDaniel said.

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