SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico physicians today applauded Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state legislators for expanding paid sick leave to hundreds of thousands of workers in the state who currently can’t take paid time off, including when they’re sick. Gov. Lujan Grisham signed paid sick leave legislation on Thursday, April 8th.
“For physicians who are constantly advising our patients to rest when they’re sick and staying home to prevent spreading disease, paid sick leave is essential to protecting people’s health, especially during a deadly global pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Ferraro, an endocrinologist in Artesia. “As a physician, I am grateful that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and legislators worked together to extend paid sick leave to thousands of New Mexicans. In a pandemic that has killed and sickened so many people, nobody wants sick people to show up for work, serving our food or looking after our kids at daycare centers.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 20, also known as the Healthy Workplaces Act, into law after the state Legislature approved the legislation in March. Half of New Mexico’s private sector workers, totalling around 576,000, have no paid sick leave. New Mexico has the highest rate of workers without paid sick leave in the nation.
Under the new law, which takes effect next year, all private-sector workers in New Mexico would earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, starting on their first day on the job and usable after their first month of work.
“Thanks to this new law, New Mexicans, especially low-wage workers, will soon no longer have to choose between going to work with COVID-19 or losing their paycheck or even their jobs,” said Dr. Kathleen Gresh, a retired pediatrician in Santa Fe. “COVID-19 is a serious disease and, as a physician, I am pleased to see our policymakers take it seriously. The data shows that when people can stay home during COVID-19 without worrying about losing a paycheck or their jobs, we can save lives. Allowing workers and their families to care for their health and the health of those around them, in addition to wearing masks and getting vaccinated, can help New Mexico eradicate COVID-19 and get back to normal.”
A federal emergency law signed in March 2020 allowed employees to take two weeks of COVID-19-related emergency sick leave coverage at full pay. The law also allowed up to 12 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds of daily pay for parents to take care of their children as a result of closures of schools and child care facilities. Researchers found that because of this emergency paid sick leave protection, each state likely saw 400 fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day. That law, the Families First Act, expired at the end of 2020.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, Apr. 9, 2021
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.