UPDATE | 2.26.2021
Welcome to this last week in February. The introduction of new bills in the New Mexico Legislature stopped on Thursday, February 18th but the bills continue to make their way through the Legislature.
House Bill (HB) 268, Coronavirus and Workers’ Comp, is a bill with recent activity. It was introduced on February 9th and on February 19th, passed its first committee with amendments.
This bill covers employees in declared essential businesses, public safety, and schools, or any employee who has worked in a business permitted to operate with limitations pursuant to a public health order. It is applicable to employees in these categories who have been required to physically work in the business up to twenty days before the diagnosis of coronavirus. This bill makes a presumption that the virus arose from the course of employment. In this case, the employee would have to establish, through the preponderance of the evidence, that the employer has not strictly complied with the public health order.
The claim is stopped if the employer’s testing and tracing plans have been approved by the Department of Health (DOH). Employers will have the ability to rebut the claim.
HB 82, Historically Underutilized Businesses, has passed several committees and ultimately the House of Representatives on February 22nd, after amendments. This bill provides preference to underutilized businesses (fifty percent ownership by women or minorities) by State agencies. The company has to have an average of no more than $5M in gross revenues or an average of no more than fifty employees over the course of the preceding three years. The business must be certified by the taxation and revenue department as a resident business and that it meets the requirements to be considered an underutilized business under the bill.
UPDATE | 2.18.2021
The last day to introduce new bills for the 2021 legislature is February 18th and as of February 16, 2021, there were 283 House bills and 382 Senate bills. The session ends at noon on March 20th. Our legislature will be working through these bills over the next four weeks.
In an update to the Healthy Workplaces Bill (HB20), a substitute Bill has been introduced by the Labor, Veterans’ and Military Affairs Committee. A side-by-side comparison of the two proposed bills shows a significant number of changes. (This is not an all-inclusive list. If you are interested in learning more about HB20, we recommend you read the text in the two proposed Bills.) Below are some highlights:
- The definition of employee on the bill removes the eighty (80) hour requirement of employment and adds part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees including individuals performing domestic service in a private home.
- The burden of proof to show that an individual is an independent contractor was changed to fall upon “the person for whom the work is performed.”
- Language was added in the definition of a family member to include a domestic partner and a domestic partner’s family members as outlined in the proposed bill.
- Additional detail was provided related to public health emergencies.
- Burden of proof for civil actions is noted.
- Misclassifications of an employee as an independent contractor is addressed. The language notes the various offices to which the division will make its report of the misclassification, including the IRS.
UPDATE | 2.12.2021
In keeping you informed about the progress of HR Bills during this 2021 Legislative Session:
House Bill 38, the Paid Family and Medical Leave, has been given a committee recommendation. The second committee review listed is with the House Judiciary Committee. This is the bill I discussed in my January 25 post that is paid through fund contributions by the employee and the employer. We’ll be monitoring movement of the bill as it works its way through.
In another family friendly initiative, HB 72, Family Friendly Workplace Education and Training, proposes a $500,000 appropriation to Workforce Solutions “for education and training for family-friendly workplace policies.” As of the last update, the website showed that “a committee recommendation has been announced by the House of Representatives, but the report (had) not been formally adopted by the body.”
HB 96, Criminal Records and Public Employment, also has a committee recommendation but hasn’t been formally adopted. The legislation outlines added circumstances under which an individual’s criminal record would not be considered including, “convictions for a crime that is not recent enough and sufficiently job-related to be predictive of performance in the position sought, given the position’s duties and responsibilities.”
UPDATE | 2.5.2021
As a follow-up to last week’s blog on proposed leave bills and the City ordinance, the February Council Meeting for the City of Albuquerque voted to hold the final vote on O-29-39 (Healthy Families and Workplace Ordinance) until March 1, 2021. It seems likely that the City is waiting for the outcome of the several proposed bills that are sitting at the legislature.
In addition, HB 110, the bill on minimum wage, was announced by the House of Representatives as having been given a committee recommendation. The bill removes certain classifications of individuals who would be exempt to the legislation and changes the previously scheduled increases for 1/1/22 and 1/1/23 which are currently slated to be $11.50 per hour and $12.00, respectively. The proposed change for 1/1/22 is to increase the minimum wage to $12.00 with an increase to $15.00 on 1/1/24. The Bill has a provision for a cost-of-living increase beginning 1/1/25 and for each successive year thereafter.
According to the legislative website the “Adoption of these actions will be considered by the House at a later date.” We will continue to monitor this bill.
The 2021 Legislature has just recently started and we already have at least 22 bills which seem to be related to Human Resources that have been introduced. This week’s highlight is on three bills related to time off.
The Albuquerque City Council recently considered an ordinance (O-20-39) similar to HB20, the Healthy Workplaces Act. The vote on the ordinance was put on hold at the end of the year and postponed until the full Council Meeting in February. While similar proposals have been made both at the City level and the State level in the past, this issue seems to have gained momentum due in part to the pandemic. It is possible that given the other leave related bills that have been introduced in this long session that the postponement may be extended in the next City Council Meeting.
The bills introduced at the State Legislature, while similar, have some important distinctions. While all bills cover time off for care of the individual and covered family members, House Bill 20, Healthy Workplaces Act, requires employers to provide earned sick leave to individuals employed in New Mexico for more than eighty hours in a twelve-month period. Accruals differ based on the number of employees. House Bill 37, Paid Sick Leave Act, provides for an accrual maximum of fifty-six hours of sick leave while House Bill 38, Paid Family & Medical Leave Act, provides for a trust funded by employee and employer contributions which is to be administered by the Workforce Solutions Department.
Please see the links above for more specific information related to the bills.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP
Phone: 505-270-7494 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org