The Paid Family & Medical Leave Coalition in New Mexico recently sent a letter to Governor Michelle Luján Grisham urging her administration’s support for the Paid Family and Medical leave Act which will be proposed during the 2023 New Mexico Legislative Session. The letter was signed by over 20 local advocacy organizations and small businesses standing in support of the proposed worker safety-net program.
Since 2016, advocates have been taking steps to create a comprehensive PFML program for workers across the state. With their efforts, in 2022, the New Mexico Senate passed Senate Memorial 1 which required the NM Department of Workforce Solutions to create a task force, composed of business, unions, and advocates to look at how the State of New Mexico can adopt a PFML (paid family and medical leave) program. The Task Force recently approved a set of recommendations that were presented to Interim Committees including the Legislative Finance Committee in November.
“The critical work carried out by the PFML task force, and the support from the business community for the same, moves us closer to creating this vital program for New Mexico workers,” said Tracy McDaniel, policy advocate for the Southwest Women’s Law Center and member of the PFML task force
The set of recommendations include exempting small businesses with fewer than five employees from paying an employer contribution. The Task Force also recommends including safe leave for victims of domestic violence and bereavement following the loss of a child as reasons a worker can take paid leave, along with welcoming a baby/child, a serious medical condition, or caring for a family member with a serious health condition.
“New Mexico’s status as 50th in the nation in child well-being makes it imperative that we enact policies that promote family and community health and economic stability. Paid family medical leave is one of those policies. It comes at a minimal cost to the state and employers, and will put our state in the ranks of all other industrialized countries and 13 other U.S. states,” said Jacob Vigil, MSW, Senior Research and Policy Analyst for NM Voices for Children.
Currently the U.S. has become a global outlier lacking paid leave, making the nation’s and state’s workforce completely vulnerable to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in infectious diseases, and other possible pandemics, which continue to wreak havoc in the state’s and the country’s financial stability.
“Now, more than two years into the global pandemic, and the ongoing rise in respiratory illnesses affecting our communities, it has become too clear that our workers need to have the ability to care for their loved ones and their own health, as an essential part of building a prosperous and resilient workforce and economy,” McDaniel said. “It is time to act to ensure that New Mexico workers no longer face the loss of their livelihood or financial stability due to a health condition or family caregiving responsibilities.”
According to an October 2021 poll commissioned by the Southwest Women’s Law Center, on behalf of the ‘PFML Coalition’, 77 percent of voters surveyed across the state stated they support the creation of a family and medical leave program.
“New Mexicans cannot continue to wait for this vital safety-net program that most of the world’s workers have had in place for years. This is why we urge our legislators and governor to prioritize the passage of the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act during the 2023 legislative session,” McDaniel said.
Recent studies also show that employees who take paid leave are less likely to take sick leave when they return, more likely to be employed by the same business two years later, and more likely to report high morale and workplace satisfaction. PFML programs have also shown to be effective in improving employee performance and engagement.
“Across New Mexico, family caregivers help their older parents, spouses or other loved ones, live independently at home – most while juggling a full or part-time job,” said Joseph Sánchez, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director. “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 – or in some cases, their employment all together. AARP urges lawmakers to vote in favor of this important legislation.”
Currently, 11 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—and the District of Columbia currently offer paid family and medical leave.
The 2023 NM Legislative Session began this week.
For More New México News: ELSEMANARIO.US
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