July 6, 2021

Paid sick leave law will go into effect in 2022

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

On Thursday most bills that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law earlier this year went into effect but the one that did not yet is the Healthy Workplaces Act.

The Healthy Workplaces Act, or paid sick leave, provides all private sector employees up to 64 hours of paid time off each year, regardless of the size of the business where the employee works. Employees will accrue one hour off for every 30 hours worked.

Related: Paid sick leave bill heads to Guv’s desk

But, the law doesn’t go into effect until July 1, 2022.

Miles Tokunow, an OLÉ community organizer who worked on the original bill, said delaying the start date of the law until next year was a concession made to the business community to give employers time to prepare for it.

“It was obviously a hard fight for paid sick leave. That was one of the easiest compromises, one of the most palatable compromises,” he said.

But, he said he believes that by this time next year, New Mexico will have one of the best paid sick leave policies in the U.S.

One thing to remember about the law is that a person can use the paid sick leave to take time off if they have been the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, Tokunow said.

Another important piece to the legislation is that the law allows for a broad definition of family, he said. A person can utilize the paid sick leave time to take care of a family member.

“Another piece I’m so proud of that came out unscathed through this past session was the fact that all families, no matter how they look, will also be able to utilize it. So many of our families don’t look like the 1950s model of 2.5 kids and we have grandparents taking care of kids, chosen families and our sick leave policy is going to include everybody’s family,” he said.

Currently, many businesses are saying they are having a difficult time finding employees. The state announced Friday it is offering supplemental payments up to $1,000 to individuals on Unemployment Insurance who go back to work between July 4 and August 28 as a way to encourage workers to reenter the workforce before federal supplements to the state’s Unemployment Insurance ends on September 4. 

Tokunow said that businesses who want to initiate paid sick leave as a hiring incentive don’t have to wait until July 1, 2022 to do so.

“From the business owners we have worked with and who aren’t having a hard time hiring, they’ve had sick leave, PTO (Paid Time Off) for years. It’s good for being competitive, it’s healthy competition, recognizing their employees have human needs, too,” he said.