Paid sick leave gives working families much-needed relief - Albuquerque Journal

Paid sick leave gives working families much-needed relief

Are you ready for some good news everyone?

At the start of this month came the paid sick leave bill. After fighting for eight long years we are finally here. Starting on July 1, if you are employed by a private employer in New Mexico, you will begin accruing paid sick leave.

You accrue the paid leave at one hour for every 30 hours worked. It will add up in no time, especially if you are employed full time, but even if you are part time or even seasonal you will accrue paid leave time.

What is this wonderful new paid leave for? It is for you to take if you are ill, or to stay home to take care of a loved one. Or if you feel like you need a mental health day, you can use it for that, too.

You can accrue up to 64 hours per year. Your employer will determine when the year starts for you. For example, if you start employment on Aug. 1 then it would make sense to begin your year at your start date; if you have been working at your job already you begin accrual on July 1, 2022.

This is a New Mexico state law.

But wait, there’s more! Let me share a personal story: My husband, Steve, was working for a security company where the pay was low so overtime was desired. Soon the company’s overtime demands were so great and unreasonable that Steve would have to work a 16-hour shift, then go home for a few hours sleep, and have to return to work after only an eight-hour respite. At the same time he was trying to control his blood sugar, eat properly and keep doctors’ appointments. He crashed and almost landed in the hospital because his blood sugar was so high.

This forced him to quit that job. How do you pay the bills with no job? These are impossible options for us and so many other New Mexicans.

Steve had to take a whole week off in order to recover somewhat, but it will take time to get back to any control of his health, and without pay. This made our monthly budget even tighter than it already was.

I tell you this personal story because it demonstrates the need for paid leave. If my husband, Steve, could have taken the time he needed to rest and gain control of his blood sugar, he might not be facing the intensive, invasive heart testing he must undergo this week. More work time lost and the expense of these procedures will be overwhelming, causing stress levels to increase.

There are so many workers who have been in the position of needing hours or days off for themselves or a loved one who will, as of July 1, be able to begin saving up the hours to take when needed.

So there it is – a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel. Look toward the light.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Paid sick leave gives working families much-needed relief


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