The executive's desk: Paid sick leave is coming: here are the facts - Albuquerque Journal

The executive’s desk: Paid sick leave is coming: here are the facts

Cristin Heyns-Bousliman

Mandatory paid sick leave is a contentious matter in New Mexico.

From the employee perspective, it is only fair that workers can stay home when ill without worrying about how they will support themselves. However, many employers see mandatory paid time off as government overreaching as well as too great a financial burden.

On April 8, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Healthy Workplaces Act into law. Employers should closely review the act for nuance, but the following takeaways should be universally informative.

What’s in the act?

First, it is important to understand the substance of the act. The effective date of July 1, 2022, gives employers plenty of time to plan and prepare for compliance. Under the act, all employees of private employers, regardless of part-time/full-time, exempt/non-exempt, temporary/permanent status, are eligible to accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked (exempt employees are assumed to work 40 hours per week) beginning on the employee’s first day and available for use immediately.

There is no maximum accrual; however, the act does limit use to 64 hours per “12-month period” with the balance carrying over from year to year. Employers need not worry about liability associated with the accrued time because the act clearly states that it is not to be paid out upon separation from employment. Employers also get to choose the “12-month period” from a list of options that include a calendar year and any fixed 12-month period such as a fiscal year or the employee’s anniversary year. Employers should consider their ability to consistently administer whichever period they elect.

Under the act, employees may use the leave for a broad array of reasons beyond the employee’s own physical health, including: mental health, medical diagnosis, treatment of a mental or physical illness, and preventive care for the employee or a family member; meetings at a child’s school/childcare provider related to the child’s health/disability; and for absences related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking suffered by the employee or a family member. “Family member” is defined broadly in the act, so it is best to accept the employee’s assertion of a family relationship.

No specific period of notice can be required before an employee uses earned sick leave, nor can employees be required to cover their shift. Although the act provides that employees should make “all reasonable efforts” to provide notice and not “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer,” these statements are aspirational and employers do not have any recourse if they are not followed. Additionally, employers cannot require documentation such as a doctor’s note unless the employee uses two or more consecutive days of leave. Employers should be mindful of the confidential nature of the circumstances of leave and set up a strong policy/procedure for properly handling requests and documentation.

What if you already offer PTO?

Next, employers with existing PTO policies may only have to make minimal changes to comply with the act. A PTO policy can no longer be limited to certain classes of employee or require completion of an introductory period, nor should use of PTO be limited to specific reasons, and it must provide for more than one hour of PTO for every 30 hours that each employee regularly works.

We recommend adding a provision stating that time off under the policy is expressly authorized for any reason, including all of the reasons stated in the Healthy Workplaces Act. It is important to note that the act’s required accrual exceeds that required under Executive Order 13706, which established paid sick leave for federal contractors (56 hours annual maximum accrual). Therefore, private employer federal contractors may also need to update their policies in order to comply.

Anti-retaliation measures

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the act contains strict anti-retaliation provisions prohibiting any adverse employment action associated with employees’ use of earned sick leave. Management employees should be trained on the provisions of the act to avoid violations.

 Cristin Heyns-Bousliman, Esq., is Principal and Practice Leader of REDW’s Human Resources Consulting group. REDW is headquartered in Albuquerque and has offices in Phoenix and Edmond, Oklahoma. Heyns-Bousliman’s experience includes human resources management and strategy, employee relations and engagement, and compensation and benefits. As a former litigation attorney specializing in employment law, Heyns-Bousliman has an in-depth legal understanding of federal and state employment laws. The executive’s desk is a guest column providing advice, commentary or information about resources available to the business community in New Mexico. To submit a column for consideration, email gporter@abqjournal.com.

 

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling of the author’s name. Her name is Cristin Heyns-Bousliman.

Home » Business » Business Columns » The executive’s desk: Paid sick leave is coming: here are the facts


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Green makeover gives new life to aging state buildings
ABQnews Seeker
Solar systems, efficiency upgrades to cut ... Solar systems, efficiency upgrades to cut annual energy bills in half
2
State's health information exchange partners with NM Rural Hospital ...
ABQnews Seeker
Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal The ... Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal The state's designated health information exchange, ...
3
Meet some of the women powering New Mexico's cannabis ...
ABQnews Seeker
Several of New Mexico's largest cannabis ... Several of New Mexico's largest cannabis companies — and even some of the new players to the game — are led by women.
4
Q&A with the leaders of women-owned cannabis firm Vana ...
ABQnews Seeker
Women are making moves in the ... Women are making moves in the cannabis industry. And Parin Kumar and Riddhi Bhakta are part of that movement. Kumar and Bhakta are CEO ...
5
Horrors! New theme restaurant opens in Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
With its black painted walls and ... With its black painted walls and "blood" splattered tables, one of Albuquerque's latest restaurants is intended to be both an homage to '80s horror ...
6
New owners bring luxury to former Albuquerque budget theater
ABQnews Seeker
The newest location of Icon Cinema ... The newest location of Icon Cinema may be inside the former Movies 8 location on San Mateo, but according to cinema owner Stetson Snell, ...
7
Lawmaker accuses ABQ gas station of price gouging
ABQnews Seeker
Unleaded fuel listed at $6.83 per ... Unleaded fuel listed at $6.83 per gallon at M&M Stores on Yale and Gibson
8
Global stocks rise after Wall St slips closer to ...
Most Recent Biz News
Global stock markets rose Friday after ... Global stock markets rose Friday after Wall Street fell closer to bear territory, China cut a key interest rate and Japanese inflation edged higher. ...
9
Asian stocks rise after Wall St slips closer to ...
Money
Asian stock markets rose Friday after ... Asian stock markets rose Friday after Wall Street fell closer to bear territory, China cut a key interest rate and Japanese inflation edged higher. ...