Legislature: Paid Family & Medical Leave Act Passes House Committee

HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS

Legislation creating a paid family and medical leave system available to all workers in the state passed the House Judiciary Committee Saturday.

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 or adopted 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 family and medical leave program.

“This is a good for business bill. Supporting workers with Paid Family Medical Leave that allows them to recover from an illness or medical procedure, to bond with a new child, or to help a sick loved one, will reduce turnover and make hardworking New Mexicans more productive,” said Rep. Christine Chandler. “As we reimagine our economy, we must prioritize our working families and their long-term wellbeing. Paid Family Medical Leave helps ensure economic stability for our working families, and the 3-year delayed implementation supports our businesses who’ve struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Every year, 53 million Americans provide unpaid care to family members while keeping full time jobs, yet the vast majority don’t have access to paid family medical leave,” said Rep. Roybal Caballero. “I feel very strongly that the time is now and the time is urgent to have paid family medical leave in New Mexico. A hardworking person shouldn’t lose their job when they’re helping take care of a loved one or are personally faced with serious injury or illness, and parents in New Mexico should be able to take time with their new children, without question. This legislation will help our working parents and support healthy families.”

“Providing family and medical leave to every New Mexican puts our small businesses on equal footing with larger competitors when recruiting,” said Rep. Linda Serrato. “The pandemic has shown how critical passing Paid Family Medical Leave is for working families, and I am proud to see this legislation pass committee today.” 

House Bill 38 passed the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 8-2, and will go next to the House Appropriations and Finance 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 throughout the state with 0.05% salary contributions from employees and 0.04% salary contributions from employers. House Bill 38 also contains a 3-year delayed implementation to allow employers recovery time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.