• YouTube Twitter Instagram Facebook
  • Office Locations Contact Us

Can an employer offer employees the opportunity to “borrow” unearned sick leave time when needed and then “repay” the time incrementally upon the employee’s return to work?

Our agency advises against a "borrowing sick leave" provision. This practice is administratively burdensome and complicated not only for the company but for the Labor Relations Division should we need to investigate a complaint. It is rife with opportunity for errors in calculations of time earned, used, and borrowed. Under Rules promulgated to enforce the provisions of the HWA, if the Division finds that an employer has not maintained accurate and complete records of paid sick leave accrual and usage, the Division may base its calculation of damages owed on other reasonable, credible evidence, including but not limited to the complainant’s estimates. (See NMAC.)

Also, the "paying back" of sick leave could be an improper payroll deduction under New Mexico's Wage Payment Act. The frontloading structure of accrual, which is allowed for under the Act, could address a company's concerns regarding an employee not having accrued enough sick leave at the time the employee needs to use the hours. The Legislature did not address this in the statute but from an agency perspective, a "borrowing" policy brings unnecessary complication, confusion, and exposure to liability.

Can employees waive any of their Healthy Workplaces Act rights through union MOUs?

No. Any attempt to require an employee of any kind to sign a contract or other agreement that would limit or prevent an employee from asserting rights under the HWA is prohibited by the Act. An employer’s attempt to impose such a contract, agreement, or policy shall constitute an adverse action under the Act that is punishable by statutory damages of $250 for each occurrence.

Can employers ever require employees to use their paid sick leave when absent for a permissible purpose?

No. Employers cannot require employees to use HWA leave. PSL may only be used upon the employee’s oral or written request. If the employee does not request use of PSL for a condition that may qualify for use under the Act, that is the employee’s choice, even if it results in no pay for the employee. This includes time that the employee may be off work due to FMLA or under another law such as the Promoting Financial Independence for Victims of Domestic Abuse Act.    

Do we need to use specific terms to denote paid sick leave or PTO that includes paid sick leave on employee paystubs?

You should describe any leave accrued, used, carried over, or frontloaded in a manner that is sufficient to allow the Division to easily see whether you have complied with the Act or not. Failure to do so could be disadvantageous to employers if the Division investigates a complaint filed by an employee alleging violations of the Act. For this reason, it is recommended, but not required, that you clearly mark paid sick leave as such in records that you provide the Division.

Can employees use HWA leave and other types of leave at the same time?

HWA leave may be used if the employee is on unpaid leave, such as FMLA leave, provided the reason is permissible under the Act. On the other hand, the Act does not obligate an employer to allow an employee to take HWA leave concurrently with other paid leave, a double-dip situation. Remember, if an employer makes other paid leave available to employees beyond what is required by the Act (such as vacation or PTO), that employer may not require an employee to use that other paid leave before taking any available HWA leave.



  • Do you want to become an

    Applications Developer?

    Develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs. Analyze user needs and develop software solutions. Design software or customize software for client use with the aim of optimizing operational efficiency.

  • Do you want to become a


    Assemble, install, alter, and repair pipelines or pipe systems that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases. May install heating and cooling equipment and mechanical control systems.

  • Do you want to become an


    Raise, place, and unite iron or steel girders, columns, and other structural members to form completed structures or structural frameworks. May erect metal storage tanks and assemble prefabricated metal buildings.

  • Do you want to become an


    Perform preliminary work with the material and tools of the trade; residential and commercial rough wiring and finish work including the installation of various kinds of wires, cables, and conduits per the National Electrical Code; industrial lighting and service installation; motors controls and installation including emergency generators, relays, and timing devices.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Contact us and we'll do our best to answer your questions.