New Mexico Enacts Paid Sick Leave
On April 8, 2021, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Healthy Workplaces Act (HWA). Effective July 1, 2022, New Mexico will require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Currently, 13 States in the U.S. have their own State-mandated paid sick leave.
Currently, New Mexico does not have a stand-alone paid sick leave law. New Mexico does have a Caregiver Leave Act which requires a private employer that provides paid sick leave for its employees’ own illnesses or injuries in accordance with the employer’s policies, be eligible to accrue sick leave, and also permits employees to use that sick leave to care for a family member.
Paid Sick Leave
Beginning July 1, 2022, New Mexico-covered employers will be required to provide up to 64 hours of paid leave per year for specific reasons relating to the health of employees or their family members. Private employers with at least 1 employee working in the state, including employees who are part-time, seasonal, and temporary, are required to comply with the provisions of the HWA.
Accrual of Leave
Employees shall be entitled to 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employers may choose to provide a higher accrual rate.
Front Loading of Leave
Employers may also “frontload” the time off by giving employees 64 hours of earned sick leave for the upcoming year on January 1 of each year. Employees whose employment begins after January 1 of a given year may be provided with a prorated portion of the 64 hours.
Employers can choose how to define the 12 months in which the leave can be taken, including using a calendar or fiscal year or a rolling 12-month period measured from when the employee first takes leave.
Employees shall be entitled to take earned sick leave in small increments, including 1 hour or less than an hour if the employer’s payroll system allows.
Accrued, unused earned sick leave carries over from year to year but employers can cap usage at 64 hours over 12 months.
Rate of Pay
Pay is at the employee’s regular rate with the same benefits, including healthcare benefits.
Reason for Leave
An employee may use earned sick leave for the following reasons:
- Their own or a family member’s health needs, including preventive care or a physical or mental health illness, injury, or condition.
“Family Members” consists of the employee’s spouse or domestic partner, children (either related to the employee or employee’s partner or spouse), foster child or stepchild, parents, legal guardians, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or individuals who have a close association with the employee or employee’s family.
- Meetings at the child’s school or with a childcare provider regarding the child’s health or disability.
- For absence necessary due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking suffered by the employee or a family member of the employee provided that the leave is to obtain medical or psychological treatment or other counseling, to relocate, or to prepare for or participate in legal proceedings.
Employers shall not be required to pay employees for earned sick leave not used upon their termination, resignation, retirement or other separation from employment.
Equivalent Sick Leave Policy
An employer with a paid sick leave policy that is the equivalent to the Healthy Workplaces Act, including the same terms and conditions, will be viewed as compliant with the HWA.
Employee notice concerning the need for paid leave
Employers are required to provide earned sick leave upon the oral or written request of an employee or an individual acting on the employee’s behalf. When possible, the request should include the expected duration of the sick leave absence.
Employers must retain records documenting hours worked by employees and earned sick leave taken by employees for 48 months.
The New Mexico mandate includes many of the same provisions and conditions as most other states which have implemented paid sick leave laws. Employers in the state should review New Mexico’s law to plan to coordinate it with existing leave policies.