NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The efforts to give almost all workers in New Mexico up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave are picking up steam in the Roundhouse. However, there are concerns that it may be underfunded.
The bill has picked up some changes as it’s made its way through the Roundhouse—adding provisions for people who are trying to escape abusers and adding labor representatives to the committee that would oversee how this is implemented.
“The fund would be financed through very small employer and employee contributions. Employees would contribute $5 for every $1,000 dollars of wages; employers with five or more employees would contribute $4 for every $1,000 of wages,” said Senator Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque.)
This fund would cover things like caring for a family member with a serious health condition, bonding with a child after birth, adoption, or foster placement, and following the death of a child.
Senate Bill 11 asks for one-time money in the amount of $36.5 million. Beginning in 2025, employees would contribute half a percent of their wages to it, while employers would match 80% of that. According to a financial review, the fund would generate more than $460 million in 2025.
There are also concerns the fund could run dry. Businesses with fewer than five workers wouldn’t have to contribute at all.
“[A total of] 66% of New Mexico employers would not be paying into the fund, but their employees would pay into the fund and be eligible for the benefit if they need it,” Stewart said. The financial report also said increasing payroll taxes by almost 1% could scare off new businesses. However, an education study said offering this could make it easier to recruit new teachers.
Workforce Solutions, which already oversees unemployment, would oversee all this and approve requests for leave. The department said it would need another 216 employees to get the job done.
The bill already passed the Senate largely along party lines. It is scheduled to be discussed in the House Commerce Committee.
Government workers and employees of companies with more than 50 workers already qualify for family and medical leave under the Federal FMLA. Those employers could opt out if they offer equal or better leave than the state’s version.