ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s another push to pass a state law requiring employers to give their workers paid family and medical leave (PFML). Right now, a lot of New Mexico workers don’t get paid if they need to take weeks or months off for things like having a baby or taking care of a sick family member.
Lawmakers created a task force this year to come up with a plan. They’re going to push for paid family medical leave for all workers. “Some of the discussions that have come up that we have talked about, for instance our definition of family; we’ve talked about the maximum length of leave; what are the causes for leave; and really looked at a number of different issues,” says Tracy McDaniel, policy advocate for the Southwest Women’s Law Center.
The idea of a state law for paid family and medical leave has been coming up in the roundhouse for years: “The paid family medical leave has been a topic of conversation in our legislature for 20 years. I think 2002 was the first time a memorial to study this issue was introduced,” McDaniel says.
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The task force’s recommendations haven’t been published yet, however, McDaniel says they’ve discussed giving New Mexico workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
According to McDaniel, employees would contribute half a percent of their earnings — coming out to around five dollars for every thousand they make. Employers would match eighty percent of that. News 13 asked local business owners and employees what they thought about this:
“I’m a big supporter of it, you know. I feel that, businesses as they continue to grow, rely on other people to do the work for those people meaning that they’re a very big part of that business,” says Kevin Adams, co-owner of Squidly Store.
“We definitely need some kind of protection for families and medical care and things of that nature. It’s tough on a small business, however, to do those kind of things when we’re constantly not making as much money as some of the larger corporations are,” says Chris Losack, manager of Astro Zombies.
The task force has discussed temporary exemptions for very small or very new businesses. The state would oversee the fund. A similar bill stalled in the roundhouse last year. However, a report for it found it would bring in around $400 million dollars a year while paying out close to $300 million dollars.
The task force’s recommendations are going before legislators on October 1st. If they pass in 2023, they’d go into law in 2026. In the proposal last year, companies that already offer at least three months of paid family and medical leave could get exemptions to keep running their own programs.
Nine other states have passed PFML laws.