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New Mexico to join other Mountain West states with paid sick leave

Skimping on health insurance carries a hidden price for some fast-food restaurants.
Paula Connelly
Getty Images
Skimping on health insurance carries a hidden price for some fast-food restaurants.

News brief

On July 1, New Mexico will join a handful of other Mountain West states that require paid sick leave.

Throughout the region, Colorado and Arizona already have paid sick leave; Nevada has a broader paid leave law.

“Ultimately, what I would love to see is with enough state action that we would get something passed on a federal level, some federal protections, like we saw for the pandemic. It’s possible,” said Miles Tokunow, deputy director of OLÉ in New Mexico. The nonprofit advocates for issues impacting working families.

The New Mexico law says employees of private businesses can accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours worked, or 64 hours of earned sick leave per year.

Laws in Colorado and Arizona have similar rates. Nevada’s law is not limited to sick leave. Employees get an hour of paid leave about every 50 hours worked.

“Most importantly, I think, is the recognition that the issues of workers are public health issues,” Tokunow said.

At the time of the New Mexico law’s signing in April 2021, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a press release that it was “a humane policy for workers”.

“No one should ever be compelled to come to work when they are sick,” she said. “And no worker should ever feel they must choose between their health and their livelihood.”

Studies show paid sick leave can reduce contagious disease. But some small businesses say the financial burden is too much.

“The pandemic has shown us how all of our healths are intertwined,” Tokunow said.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2022 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson

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