- Caregiver Leave Act Allows Employees to Use Already-Provided Sick Leave for Caregiving
Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s Caregiver Leave Act, HB 86, is headed to the Senate floor for a final vote after it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, moving the widely supported bill, which would allow workers to also use sick leave that is already provided by their employers to cover absences for caregiving, one step closer to the governor’s desk.
“Too many New Mexicans are in the Sandwich Generation,” Armstrong said. “My kids are grown, but my 88-year-old mother lives with me. We need to ensure that all workers are able to care for their sick and aging relatives without jeopardizing their job.”
Specifically the Caregiver Leave Act allows workers to use sick leave, if their employer already provides it, not just when they are ill, but also when they need time for caregiving.
According to a survey conducted by AARP New Mexico, which supports the Caregiver Leave Act:
- 59 percent of New Mexicans surveyed are currently a family caregiver or had been one in the past;
- 58 percent of those caregivers said they are employed full- or part-time;
- 38 percent of caregivers reported having to take a leave of absence from their job for caregiving;
- 26 percent of caregivers reported that they had to reduce their number of hours of work from full-time to part-time while caregiving; and
- 23 percent of New Mexico family caregivers left the workplace entirely. (In comparison, the national average for leaving work entirely due to caregiving is 10 percent.)
Further, AARP New Mexico found that of those surveyed who reported they are not currently caregivers, 56 percent said they expected to be a caregiver in the future.
“In New Mexico, we value family,” Armstrong said. “We want to be there for our parents and our kids when they need us. The Caregiver Leave Act would give working New Mexicans flexibility and make it easier for them to take care of their families and take care of themselves.”
HB 86 now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. If it passes, it will go to Gov. Susana Martinez for consideration.