UPDATE | 2.21.2022
Today, we have an update on the legislative session which ended this past Thursday.
While there were several bills relating to employment being considered, many did not pass. One noteworthy item to pass was actually a memorial. Senate Memorial 1 relates to convening a taskforce to complete a recommendation for legislation for paid family and medical leave and to report this to the Governor and the legislature by October 1, 2022.
This memorial has already been signed by the Governor. It will be interesting to see how this recommendation will fit in with the Healthy Workplaces Act. The memorial does account for HWA, stating that “while a step in the right direction, the Healthy Workplaces Act is not comparable to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act…”
The recommendation that will be made in October will be based on a state-administered paid family and medical leave trust fund. The memorial does not state who will fund the program but a January 3rd, 2022 article in the Albuquerque Journal by Terreline Massey, the Executive Director of the Southwest Women’s Law Center, stated that there will be both employer and employee contributions used to fund the program. Based on the article, it would not apply to employers with less than ten employees. It appears there will be a six-week waiting period before an employee can submit an application and the employee would receive some percentage of their salary for up to twelve weeks. It also stated self-employed individuals could opt into the program. As this is a memorial awaiting recommendation, we are not sure what any final form will look like at this point but we will check-in on the status of recommendations again later in the year and forward what we know when it is available.
UPDATE | 2.07.2022
The legislative session is drawing to a close, ending on February 17th, and all items that will be introduced have already been proposed. There are 250 House bills and 255 Senate bills. There were few bills relating to HR related matters in the private sector during this short section. Scroll below for a few bills highlighted previously.
Missing from the final bills is any additional legislation surrounding the Healthy Workplaces Act. This means employers with at least one employee should expect to be in compliance with the bill previously signed by the Governor by July 1st of this year. This Act mandates employers with at least 1 employee, including employers with temporary and seasonal workers, to provide up to 64 hours of paid sick leave per year based on hours worked. The leave will need to be available to employees for a variety of circumstances under the Act.
The Department of Workforce Solutions put forth a proposed rule late last year. For those of you who are interested, it is available on this site. DWS did request feedback on the proposed rule in December. However, we are still awaiting the additional published guidance from the Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) which probably won’t happen until the feedback from the public has been reviewed and the rule is finalized. Southwestern HR Consulting (SWHRC) continues to monitor this item. If you have any questions about how this Act may affect your business, contact us at SWHRC today!
UPDATE | 1.31.2022
It has been close to two weeks into the legislative session but only another five days for introduction of new items. There are already over three hundred bills in the legislature and several employment related bills but the majority are related to specific state employers/state agencies. This includes, Senate Bill (SB) 152, which is characterized as an extension around the scope of the New Mexico Human Rights Acts (NM HRA). NM HRA affects employers with four or more employees. The proposed changes basically provide more definition around public employers that are covered. The only material change affecting existing covered employers is a change from the reference of “handicap” to “disability.” If you have the old verbiage in your policies, you will likely want to change that language to be consistent with the use of the word disability as in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) anyway.
In addition, by now you have probably heard of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) pulling the temporary standard requiring COVID vaccination or ongoing testing for large employers with at least 100 employees. However, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and other organizations are reporting that OSHA is still planning to pursue a permanent standard. More to come.
Many employers have been hoping to see changes to the impending Health Workplaces Act (HWA) which affects employers within the state of New Mexico that have at least one employee. The planned effective for HWA is still July 1, 2022. As of Thursday, January 26, 2022 no additional legislation on HWA has been introduced. Southwestern HR Consulting (SWHRC) is watching the legislative site for any additional legislation regarding this prior bill and the Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) site for impending guidance they are slated to provide. Comments were taken from the public by DWS in written format and in a virtual meeting prior to the holiday. No guidelines have yet been provided but we continue our tracking. If you need additional guidance regarding workplace laws and how you might need to make changes on policies to remain in compliance, contact us at SWHRC.com.
UPDATE | 1.24.2022
The Governor has made her opening statement where she has discussed an interest in a significantly higher budget to fund a variety of initiatives. So while this is a short legislative session this year, be prepared for a variety of proposed changes. Below is a listing of just a few HR related bills this week.
Senate Bill (SB) 94 relates to private sector retirement and creates a retirement savings facilitation income tax credit. Be aware that it will require that some employers register and automatically enroll their employees in a “Work and Save Individual Retirement Account Program.” Employees may elect not to participate by opting out of automatic enrollment.
For taxable years prior to January 1, 2028, a taxpayer who is not a dependent of another individual and is a business owner that meets the requirements, may apply for a $300 tax credit against their tax liability. Important to note is that the business owner will be ineligible if they offered an employer-sponsored retirement plan prior to July 1, 2022. “Covered employers” who will have to register are now defined as a person engaged in a business primarily in New Mexico that employed five or more employees at any time during the previous calendar year, has operated for at least twenty-four consecutive months and, in the preceding two calendar years, has not offered to all employees a qualified retirement plan pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code. Please review this bill on the link provided above as this will likely mean significant changes to your processes, if you are a covered employer. Organizations with one to four employees are considered “eligible” employers.
SB 28 is a bill allowing private employers to provide a hiring preference to honorably discharged/separated veterans and veterans spouses, widows and widowers. Adopting a uniform process for hiring and promotion will not be considered a violation of any state or local employment opportunity law. Please be aware that the federal government and certain federal contractors are covered under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act Regulations (VEVRAA) that requires establishing hiring benchmarks for veterans. The proposed effective date on both bills are July 1, 2022.
If you are unsure of your hiring requirements or would like Southwestern Human Resources Consulting to look at your hiring process, contact us today at SWHRC.com.
UPDATE | 1.17.2022
As we head into the new year, I wanted to remind everyone that Santa Fe is in preparation for the next legislative session which begins, January 18, 2022. This year’s session is a short session. Any pre-filed bills were due on January 14th. The deadline for introduction of items is February 2nd and the session ends on February 17th. Southwestern HR Consulting will be monitoring the bills coming through and will be providing updates on HR related items during this period. We are also expecting additional guidance from the Department of Workforce Solutions on the Healthy Workplaces Act and will report out as we know more. If you are looking for guidance regarding the various employment laws and how they apply to you, please contact Southwestern HR Consulting at swhrc.com today.
To read the updates from 2021, visit our 2021 NM State Legislature Blog
SWHRC can help by providing training to your organization and can provide trainings in a virtual format. Contact us today for more information on what we can provide for your organization.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP
Phone: 505-270-7494 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org