New Mexico has recently passed several laws that affect employers, detailed below.
Lower Minimum Wage for Minors Eliminated
Beginning June 18, 2021, employers will no longer be able to pay minors less than the regular state minimum wage.
Hairstyles Become a Protected Characteristic
The state’s human rights law has been amended so that the employment protections for race now specifically include traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture, length of hair, protective hairstyles (e.g., braids, locs, cornrows, afros), and cultural or religious headdresses (e.g., hijabs, head wraps). This law applies to all employers with four or more employees.
Employers should modify any dress or appearance policies as needed and ensure that managers and those involved in the hiring process are aware of these protections.
Sick Leave Coming July 2022
The state has adopted a sick leave law, applicable to employers of all sizes, that will entitle employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and use up to 64 hours per year. Employee accrual and use of sick leave will begin July 1, 2022. Additional details can be found in our prior post here >>
Cannabis Legalized for Recreational Use
While the state has legalized the recreational use of cannabis (marijuana), the new law doesn’t create any new protections for employees. Although the recreational cannabis law says that employers can keep their written zero tolerance policies, employers should be aware that the state has protections for off-duty medical use of cannabis (with some exceptions).
It’s also worth remembering that drug testing for cannabis doesn’t indicate whether an employee is currently high or when the drug was last used. The test detects the presence of the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis called THC, which can stay in a person’s body for weeks. Random or pre-screening drug testing may screen out qualified applicants or lead you to terminate high-performers (no pun intended) for off-duty use. A common alternative is to limit testing for cannabis to safety-sensitive positions or when there is evidence that an employee is actually high on the job.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.