- Bernalillo County in New Mexico passed the Employee Wellness Act (Ordinance No. 2019-17) requiring employers to provide employees within the county with paid time off (PTO) for any purpose starting on July 1, 2020.
- The ordinance covers full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary workers, but it does not cover those excluded from the definition of "employee" under the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act. It requires a minimum accrual of one hour of earned PTO for every 32 hours worked, starting with the 90th day of employment. Total accrual is capped at 24 hours in 2020, 40 hours in 2021 and 56 hours in 2022. The effective date is July 1 for each of those years. Employees may not use any accrued PTO before working 56 hours in a year.
- The ordinance notes that "all workers at some time during each year need limited time off from work to take care of their own health needs or those of family members." It continues that businesses offering paid leave experience lower turnover and says that workers "without paid leave go to work sick approximately 3.5 times a year; 1.8 times with risk of spreading the illness."
Earlier this year, Maine passed a law mandating paid leave for any purpose; the law takes effect Jan. 1, 2021. And while it might be the first state law explicitly providing paid leave for any reason, paid sick leave laws are picking up steam around the country: Maryland passed a paid sick leave law in 2018 granting qualified employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work. This law also provides for unpaid, job-protected leave for employees at smaller organizations that are not covered by the law's paid leave component. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California have enacted similar laws.
The patchwork is proliferating in the absence of a unified federal law mandating paid time off. Although funding remains a sticking point, federal law would provide more uniformity and predictability, which is why some business groups are in favor of the idea. The Society for Human Resource Management has expressed support for the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, while legislators have introduced other proposals, including the FAMILY Act.
Employers who voluntarily offer paid leave beyond what's legally required need to consider the factors that drive workers to take leave and ensure their policies don't conflict with the mandates of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Culturally, it's important that workers feel supported in taking time away from work, experts have said.