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Supporters Will Try Again To Pass Paid Family & Medical Leave Next Year

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Kevin Meerschaert
/
KSFR-FM
The Economic Development and Policy Committee hears from members of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Task Force.

Supporters of State-sponsored paid Family Leave will try again in the upcoming legislative session to bring such a program to New Mexico.

Members of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Task Force presented its findings Monday to the interim Economic Development and Policy Committee.

Under the proposal a fund would be created using donations from both employers and employees to pay employees who need to take up to 12 weeks of leave a year. 

The employees would receive full pay at minimum wage and 67-percent of pay above that level. The maximum would be at a  60-thousand dollar yearly salary.       

The task force is recommending requiring employees to pay $5 for every $1,000 they earn in wages into the fund, while employers would pay $4 for every $1,000 they spend in salaries.

At the current state average wage of about $47-thousand   employers would pay in just over $118 a year per employee, while the worker would contribute $235 per year.

One would have to have contributed for six months before becoming eligible.

Tracy McDaniel is a Policy Advocate for the Southwest Women's Law Center and presented the report for the Task Force.

She says the program would be a great benefit for both New Mexico businesses and employees.

“Knowing they have that kind of support can really make a big impact both in people that are managing chronic diseases or caring for their elders as well as people who are welcoming a new child,” she said. “We know that the child abuse rate decreases when people take advantage of a program like this. That really speaks to the bonding and attachment, all that’s available when people have financial stability.”          

Businesses with five or fewer employees would be exempt from paying into the program, but could participate if they chose too.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia already have various Family Leave Plans in place, and supporters have been trying to get such legislation passed in New Mexico for decades.

 But even the supporters admit it’s likely to be tough going to get it approved as businesses, many who already provide family leave coverage say they are leery of a state-operated program.   

Supporters say it would be to benefit those businesses that can’t afford to provide paid family leave.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.