ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two city councilors want to make sure essential workers get extra pay and benefits for working the front lines during the pandemic. However, other city councilors say it’s too soon to know if businesses can handle that extra expense. Councilors Isaac Benton and Lan Sena are proposing that essential businesses like hospitals, grocery stores, and restaurants offer their employees paid sick leave and more pay.

The paid sick leave resolution is directed toward employers with fewer than 500 employees in jobs with high public contact. It would give emergency paid sick leave benefits to workers who may not be able to work because of COVID-19

“Seeing the people who are working there and knowing how much they make,” said Benton. “Which is very little and knowing how many benefits they have which are very little. I thought it really is the time for us to move forward with the discussion about paid sick leave.” 

Meanwhile, the emergency premium pay ordinance is meant to help essential employees who make $15 or less an hour, giving them at least an extra $30 per shift. On Sunday, councilors Brook Bassan and Don Harris spoke out saying there first needs to be an economic impact study of these two resolutions and more community input, to see if businesses can afford it.

“It’s incredibly important that we don’t rush through,” said Bassan. “The public has the right to have their voice heard. I think we need some serious evaluation on the statistics of how this could go in a positive way or a negative way.” 

Councilor Benton told KRQE News 13 there have already been plenty of studies done on the concepts of the legislation. He said the request to do more studies could be a stalling tactic.

Both resolutions were introduced last week. The council is expected to discuss them with a potential vote on them on June 29th.