New Mexico Joins States Expanding Paid Sick Leave During Pandemic

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed legislation that will require employers throughout the state to provide paid sick leave to workers, joining at least a dozen other states that either already had such laws in place or have expanded offerings during the coronavirus pandemic.

[READ: COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility by State]

The new law — which takes effect July 1, 2022 — will allow employees to accrue an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, according to The Associated Press, up to 64 hours.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a news release that the importance of guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers “has been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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

Expanding paid sick leave has been a crucial component of the federal response to the pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act — signed into law in the early outset of the crisis — required employers with fewer than 500 employees and federal, state and local public agencies to provide paid sick time to employees who were unable to work due to several reasons related to COVID-19, including an isolation order and caring for a child whose school school was closed.

More recently, the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden in March provides tax credits to small and midsize businesses that offer paid leave to workers “who may take leave due to illness, quarantine or caregiving,” according to the Treasury Department. The plan also adds new qualifying reasons for sick leave, such as getting the COVID-19 vaccine or recovering from side effects related to getting vaccinated, according to the National Law Review.

Other states have enacted paid sick leave laws or expanded access since the pandemic began. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California — which also enacted paid sick leave requirements long before the coronavirus crisis, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — in March signed legislation that ensures access to up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid leave for eligible employees, including those who are caring for COVID-impacted family members. The law extends protections through Sept. 30, 2021, and is retroactive to sick time taken beginning on Jan. 1, according to a news release.

[MORE: Coronavirus Is Keeping Me Home From Work. Will I Get Paid?]

Colorado last year enacted a law — which took effect in part on Jan. 1, 2021 — that requires employers with 16 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to their workers, accruing at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 48 hours over the course of a year, according to the state’s General Assembly. The law takes effect for all employers regardless of size starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

New York enacted its own law not long after the pandemic hit. The legislation, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 3, 2020, established the right to paid leave for New Yorkers, with different requirements depending on employer size. Workers were able to start using accrued leave on Jan. 1.

States that adopted paid sick leave requirements long before the pandemic include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont, according to the NCSL. The full list now includes 16 states plus Washington, D.C., according to the NCSL and the National Partnership for Women & Families.

States That Have Enacted Paid Sick Leave Laws

State Effective Year
Arizona 2017
California 2015
Colorado 2021
Connecticut 2012
Maine 2021
Maryland 2018
Massachusetts 2015
Michigan 2019
Nevada 2020
New Jersey 2018
New Mexico 2022
New York 2021
Oregon 2016
Rhode Island 2018
Vermont 2017
Washington 2018

Virginia recently enacted a law that requires employers to provide paid sick leave to home health workers, according to a news release from the office of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. But the law would have mandated paid leave for a wider range of essential workers before being whittled down in the state legislature, the AP reported.

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