BY WENDY ANN KREUTZ CLAYTON
As if the COVID restrictions of the past two years weren’t hard enough for our local small businesses to navigate to continue doing business, I’m wondering what the impact will be of the New Mexico Paid Sick Leave (Healthy Workplaces Act) which just became effective on July 1. In short, the act applies to all employees – full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary, salaried, tipped, or on per-diem as well as employees who are paid on task, piece, or commission basis. Employees will accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every thirty hours worked up to 64 hours which can carry over year-to-year.
This may seem a ‘win’ for employees, but there are two sides of this equation, and I’d really like to hear from small business owners in our community to see if this is a burden they can bear, or if it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’m not a small business owner, so I’m not directly impacted…or am I?
For example, restaurants will be required to pay tipped employees, who usually are paid less than full minimum wage due to a “tip credit,” the full minimum wage for sick leave even though no additional income is there to cover that difference. And while paying that sick leave, the employer must now also pay the fill-in employee’s wages and allow that fill-in employee to also earn sick leave.
I’d hate to see more restaurants, childcare centers, landscaping contractors, and other small businesses who employ seasonal and temporary workers fold up their tents and leave to do business elsewhere. We need to be supporting our small businesses in New Mexico, not punishing them into extinction!
You can view the new policy at: https://www.dws.state.nm.us/nmpaidsickleave