FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 30, 2023
Contact: Isaac De Luna | firstname.lastname@example.org | 505.917.5501
New Mexico Legislators Introduce Paid Family and Medical Leave Act
Santa Fe, NM – Today, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Coalition is celebrating the introduction of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) at the 2023 New Mexico Legislature, sponsored by State Sen. Mimi Stewart, Sen. Michael Padilla, Rep. Christine Chandler, Rep. Lisa Serrato, and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero.
The PFMLA would establish the Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) Fund, administered by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS). The Fund would be paid for through employee and employer contributions. Individuals who need to take a longer period of time away from work to manage certain kinds of medical and family issues would apply to NMDWS to receive a percentage of their salary, ensuring that no New Mexican has to choose between their health, their family, and their income.
“Research shows that companies that provide paid family leave tend to have lower absenteeism, increased productivity and improved employee morale, which all results in a positive impact on the bottom line,” said Sen. Stewart. “This legislation will also attract businesses to our state and help retain businesses already in our state, as it will show that New Mexico is a state that values and supports its workforce.”
The legislation would provide a level playing field for New Mexico businesses, particularly small businesses which are struggling to compete with companies that can afford to provide their own internal PFML program. The current version of this bill exempts 66% of New Mexico employers with less than five employees, while still providing the benefits of the programs to these small business employees.
“The proposed Paid Family and Medical Leave Act would be implemented through a shared-cost model, where employees will pay 0.5% of wages, and employers with more than five employees will pay 0.4% of wages,” said Sen. Padilla. “Employers with fewer than five employees will be exempted from contributing to the fund while still providing the benefits of the programs to their employees. This means that businesses will not be burdened with extra cost by implementing this policy.”
Currently, 11 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—and the District of Columbia offer paid family and medical leave.
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. Recent studies 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.
“This law will help our small businesses better compete in the hiring market,” said Rep. Christine Chandler. “Without the state’s support, many small businesses can’t afford to offer Paid Family and Medical Leave, which is important for attracting and retaining talented workers, improving employee morale, and boosting our state’s economy.”
According to an October 2021 poll commissioned by the Southwest Women’s Law Center, on behalf of the ‘PFML Coalition,’ 77% of voters surveyed across the state stated they support the creation of a family and medical leave program.
“Paid family leave will give small businesses a competitive advantage as they grow and keep talent, and provide economic security to small business owners and hundreds of thousands of working families in New Mexico,” said Rep. Serrato. “It will be life-changing as we welcome new members to our families and care for their needs as we grow together.”
Paid family and medical leave is proven to support small businesses by decreasing employee turnover, a situation that creates a real cost to businesses in the form of lost productivity, depleted team morale from the additional workload and the loss of a colleagues, damaged brand, and all of it leading to possibly even more turnover.
“As a single mother, I had to work two jobs just to make ends meet and I could not imagine getting ill because I had no paid medical leave. So, I firmly believe that no one should have to choose between their job and their family,” said Rep. Roybal Caballero. “This legislation will provide much-needed support to working families in New Mexico so they have the time they need to take care of their loved ones without worrying about losing their livelihood.”
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act was introduced as Senate Bill 11 and will be heard in the Senate Tax, Business & Transportation Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee.
The following are reactions from other members of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Coalition from across New Mexico:
“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 Dr. Joseph Sanchez, AARP New Mexico 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,” – Othiamba Umi, Associate Director of AARP New Mexico.
“PFML is an investment in the future of our state by supporting our Common Good and working families willing to take on the enormous responsibility and cost of raising the next generation of New Mexicans while so many are also caring for their aging parents.”
– The Rev. Dr. Holly Beaumont, Organizing Director, Interfaith Worker Justice – NM
“Small businesses want to offer competitive benefits in order to attract and retain a workforce,” said Awesta Sarkash, Public Policy Director at Small Business Majority. “But without a state-run paid family and medical leave program, it can be hard to do so. That’s why it’s important that the Legislature pass this bill so that New Mexico’s smallest businesses can afford to offer benefits that their employees need and level the playing field.”
“PFMLA is an important opportunity to improve the health and well-being of families by creating a flexibility to take care of issues that arise unexpectedly. It’s a pressing public health issue that can be taken care of by our legislators,” says Enrique Cardiel, Executive Director of the Health Equity Council.
“Many people with Multiple Sclerosis have suffered a loss of motor skills and need assistance for daily life activities. For that same reason, many people who have MS rely on a family member who can care for them. It is reassuring for people with MS to know their caregivers’ place of employment also will support their efforts,”– Dominic Braham, Senior Manager of Advocacy for National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“The health and well-being of New Mexico’s families is one of the most important factors influencing the success of our state’s students, in school and in life. PFML is a critically important step we can take to improve student success!” Charles Goodmacher, Do Good LLC Government Relations.
“As people of faith, we are called to care for the sick, to seek justice for the marginalized, and to support the health and well-being of our families. Passing PFML is vital to us being able to live out our calling in the state of New Mexico. NMRCRC stands in full support of this bill, and we ask lawmakers to join us in this support.” Rev. Bethany Meier-Evans, Clergy and Congregational Advocacy Organizer for New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
“Paid family and medical leave is an essential tool for promoting gender equity in the workplace. This is because women are more likely to take time off for family caregiving than men, and without paid leave, they are more likely to experience career interruptions, reduced earning potential, and increasing potential for discrimination in the workplace. This is especially true for low-income women, who are disproportionately likely to work in jobs without paid leave,” – Terrelene Massey, Executive Director, Southwest Women’s Law Center.
The Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) Coalition represents 40 organizations committed to ensuring that all New Mexicans have access to a state-administered Paid Family and Medical Leave program. These organizations serve a broad swath of those most impacted by the lack of PFML, including communities of color, low-wage workers, immigrant families, pregnant and lactating people, fathers, unpaid caregivers, elders, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ families, young children, women, single parents, multigenerational households, and entrepreneurs.