AARP Eye Center
When the state Legislature returns to Santa Fe in January, supporters of paid family and medical leave for New Mexico workers are expected to renew a push for legislation that would help family caregivers.
Earlier this year, the state Senate approved a bill that would have provided employees with up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for an ill family member, bond with a new infant or for other reasons. But the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee tabled it.
Many family caregivers who help their relatives to live independently at home are also juggling full- or part-time jobs, says Othiamba Umi, associate state director of advocacy for AARP New Mexico, which backed the bill.
“Paid family and medical leave would allow family caregivers, often already under a financial strain, to take time off to care for a loved one without fear of losing their pay,” Umi says.
The paid family leave legislation considered earlier this year would have required all employees and companies with five or more workers to pay into a state fund. That pool of money would then be used to pay employees who take leave a portion of their usual salary.
The bill came on the heels of a 2021 law requiring businesses to give employees paid sick leave.
Some in the business community have argued that being required to also offer paid family and medical leave would be a burden, particularly for small employers. But state Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), a bill sponsor, says businesses may have mistakenly thought they would have to pay for workers’ time off directly.
Another sponsor, state Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), says she hopes the bill will be introduced with minor changes in the 2024 legislative session.