#NMLEG Progressive Bill of the Day | 02-03-15

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Sen. Jacob Candelaria

Sen. Jacob Candelaria

Should New Mexico ensure that paid medical leave is available to all workers in our state? One New Mexico State Senator thinks so and has introduced legislation to prove it.

Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-Bernalillo) has introduced the New Mexico Family Leave Act (SB 375), a bill that would require employees to receive 60% of their salary when they must take time off of work because of their own sickness, a family member’s sickness, or because of a birth.

KOB reported on Senator Candelaria’s bill and sat down with him to discuss it further:

“The state, employees, and businesses all have skin in the game to make paid family leave a reality,” Candelaria said. “Under the bill, employees and businesses would make a 2/10ths of 1 percent contribution to a new state insurance pool to fund the Act, and the state will provide corresponding reasonable tax incentives for businesses.”

Under the bill, employees must still exhaust accrued vacation and sick leave before applying for leave under this act, as required by federal law.

The federal Family Medical Leave Act protects many workers from losing their jobs when they get sick, but does not provide paid medical leave.

“The United States one of only three countries in the world that does not provide its employees with this kind of basic fundamental protection,” Candelaria said. “I think New Mexico can lead in closing that gap.”

California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have enacted similar legislation.

“All of the research from those states shows this is a good thing for families and it actually improves productivity with businesses,” Candelaria said.

President Barack Obama also called for a renewed push for paid family leave during last month’s State of the Union address.