New Mexico Human Services Dept. pays back wages to employee denied sick leave

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A single mother will get back pay in wages the U.S. Department of Labor says she was wrongly denied. The New Mexico Human Service Department will pay back $1,411 after they initially refused to pay the employee sick leave.

The leave is allowed under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigators learned the leave was denied to the employee who is a single mother of three young children whose school closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the employee was allowed to telework, she was unable to work and care for the children. Instead of granting the leave, the New Mexico Human Services Department took disciplinary action for the employee’s inability to telework.

As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the EPSLA allows employees to take leave when caring for children whose schools or place of care is closed for reasons related to the coronavirus. The state Human Services Dept. cooperated with federal investigators and agreed to pay the employee’s wages for the time she was off work to care for her children.

The department also agreed to comply with FFCRA guidelines in the future as it went into effect on April 1, 2020. “The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to educate employers, including state and local governments, through our website and extensive outreach efforts to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections of this new law,” said Wage and Hour District Director Evelyn Sanchez. “We commend the New Mexico Human Services Department for its cooperation in resolving this situation quickly, and for its commitment to future compliance.”

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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