By Mimi Stewart and Michael Padilla
As a society, we must value and support the caregiving work that is essential to raising healthy, prosperous families and to maintaining a strong economy. That is why during this legislative session we have introduced the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, a policy that will not only provide much-needed support to working families but also bring significant benefits to our state's economy.
Sadly, the United States remains the only industrialized country that does not offer paid family leave. As a result, many working parents are forced to choose between caring for their loved ones and maintaining their livelihoods. This not only causes stress and financial strain for families but also results in significant economic costs for businesses.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees to care for a new child, a family member with a serious health condition, or to recover from a serious health condition themselves. This leave will be paid for through a small payroll contribution, using a shared-cost model between employees and employers.
This policy also makes good business sense. When working parents are able to take time off to care for their loved ones, they are less likely to quit their jobs or reduce their hours, which can lead to increased turnover costs for employers. Additionally, when parents are able to take time off to care for their new child, they are more likely to return to work and continue contributing to our economy.
Paid family leave is particularly important for small businesses, which often struggle to provide benefits to their employees. The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act will level the playing field for small businesses, allowing them to compete with larger companies to retain top talent.
Research shows that companies providing paid family leave tend to have lower absenteeism, increased productivity and improved employee morale which all results in a positive impact on the bottom line. This legislation will also both attract new businesses to our state and help retain those already doing businesses here, as it will affirm that New Mexico is a state that values and supports its workforce.
It is also important to note that the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act will not just benefit parents, but also those who are caring for elderly, disabled family members, and workers who have chronic health conditions or disabilities themselves. This legislation will help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to take care of their loved ones without fear of losing their job or falling into financial instability.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act is a common-sense policy that will provide much-needed support to working families in New Mexico while also bringing significant benefits to our state's economy. We urge our fellow legislators to join us in supporting this important legislation and to work together to ensure that it becomes law. By doing so, we will be taking a critical step towards creating a more equitable and just society for all New Mexicans while also supporting our economy.
State Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and State Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla are both Democrats from Albuquerque.
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