Article Written by Jeremiah L. Ritchie
For Albuquerque employers, there may be big changes on the horizon for how you provide and manage sick leave. While the “Albuquerque Healthy Workforce Ordinance” is facing legal challenges from industry representatives, it is slated to appear on the ballot in the October 3rd municipal election.
The proposed ordinance, if approved by voters, would require that employers provide accrued paid sick time of one hour for every 30 hours worked. This would apply to all employees that work a minimum of 56 hours per year, whether they are seasonal, temporary, or part-time. The leave may be used for a wide range of mental or physical health-related absences, including the illness of a family member.
As an employer, you are not allowed to request documentation or substantiation of the illness or condition unless the employee uses three or more consecutive paid sick days. If you ask an employee to provide documentation, you are required to pay all out-of-pocket expenses the employee incurs in obtaining the documentation.
The proposed ordinance also contains a sweeping anti-retaliation provision. Any adverse employment action, such as a reduction in hours or assignment of less favorable duties, within 90 days of an employee utilizing sick leave, is presumed to be retaliation. Employers who fail to keep complete records of employee’s hours worked, wages, and sick leave will be presumed to have violated the ordinance.
The City Attorney will be tasked with enforcement, and may impose fines payable to the City. This ordinance also creates a civil cause of action, and employers found to violate the ordinance will be liable for attorney’s fees and costs, liquidated damages, actual damages, and reinstatement where appropriate.
Employers should keep a close eye on this ordinance, and be prepared to make the required adjustments should it pass in October. To see the full ordinance, visit the City Council’s website at cabq.legistar.com. If you would like help positioning your business to deal with this or other employment-related challenges, contact the Sheehan firm for a consultation.