Legislature: Paid Family & Medical Leave Act Passes House Committee


Ensures that New Mexicans can recover from medical procedures & care for newborn children without risking their financial security

Legislation creating a paid family and medical leave system available to all workers in the state passed Monday in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. 

Sponsored by Representatives Christine Chandler (D – Los Alamos), Patricia Roybal Caballero (D – Albuquerque), and Linda Serrato (D – Santa Fe), House Bill 38 – the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act ensures paid leave for workers with health emergencies such as cancer, intensive surgery, or major injuries, as well as for new parents, allowing them time off to care for and spend time with their newborn child. 

After applying for leave, individuals would receive pay equivalent to their current wages for the duration of the necessary leave, up to 12 weeks. The United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not have a national paid and family medical leave program.

“Allowing people to take the time necessary to recover from an illness or medical procedure to bond with a newborn child or to help a sick loved one, will make a huge impact in the lives of New Mexicans, the wellbeing and development of our children, and the health of our economy overall,” said Rep. Christine Chandler. “Right now, many workers in New Mexico, mostly low-wage workers, have no access to leave and often lose employment when a life event requires time away from work.” 

“A hardworking person shouldn’t lose their job when they’re helping take care of a loved one or are personally faced with illness, and parents in New Mexico should be able to take time with their newborns, without question,” said Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero. “This legislation will help our working parents and has the potential to make a real dent in New Mexico’s poverty rate.”    

“HB 38 is vital to our families and workers, and it also creates a level playing field in the business community,” said Rep. Linda Serrato. “Today, many small businesses are unable to provide paid family and medical leave to their employees, even if they agree with the idea, because it would be too expensive to do on their own. Providing family and medical leave to every New Mexican puts our small businesses on equal footing with larger competitors.”

House Bill 38 passed the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee with a bipartisan 7-3 vote and will be heard next by the House Judiciary Committee. 

Funding for the program comes from a newly created “family and medical leave trust fund” that all employees and employers in New Mexico would pay into at a low rate. Those contributions would be spread out throughout the state with 0.05% salary contributions from employees and 0.04% salary contributions from employers. The structure is based on successful programs in other states and is designed to ensure that small businesses and lower-wage workers are able to make small payments into the system while being eligible for the full benefits it provides. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.