SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico lawmakers are not giving up, once again pushing for a paid family and medical leave program. Representative Linda Serrato says she doesn’t want people to have to choose between taking care of family and taking care of work.

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“It’s an unfair measurement for both workers and businesses,” says Representative Serrato. “For our small business community, they’ve had to deal with workers having to leave for a week at a time or longer. People have to deal with funeral arrangements, unfortunately, during this period. How do you navigate those periods? It’s very difficult.”

Ultimately, the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act would establish a trust fund through employee and employer contributions. Qualifying events for access to these funds include caring for a sick family member, managing one’s own health, or welcoming a new child. Compensation would be administered through the Department of Workforce Solutions. 

Right now, House Memorial Three, sponsored by Representative Serrato and Representative Christine Chandler, is asking the department to create a task force to develop recommendations for how the program would work. 

“We’ve seen them navigate so much over this COVID-19 period that we’re asking them to take on a lot of new responsibility. We’re taking this opportunity to ask how would this work? How could we see this implemented most effectively in our state?”

Policy advocates like the Southwest Women’s Law Center in Albuquerque, are hoping New Mexico will become the tenth state to pass paid family and medical leave programs.

According to House Memorial Three, many working New Mexicans with serious medical conditions often delay medical treatment until an emergency arises due to limited access to paid or unpaid leave. The task force is being asked to present its report and recommendations for this law to the governor and appropriate legislative committees by October 1st.