New Mexico Labor Laws

New Mexico labor laws are unique as they pertain to wages. Their prevailing wage is currently $7.50 per hour.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the FLSA, set the hourly and wage standards that every employer in the United States must follow.All employers have to pay the highest minimum wage valid to employees in their state, whether it’s set by state, federal, or local law.

The prevailing minimum wage federally is $7.25, as opposed to the prevailing minimum wage in New Mexico of $7.50. That means the latter wage applies.

If an employee earns tips as a part of their compensation, their employers reserve the right and option to pay those employees a lower minimum wage -- sometimes as low as $2.13 per hour. This is on the sole condition that the employees make enough tips to bring their hourly totals up to state minimum wage standards.

New Mexico Labor Laws on Overtime

New Mexico’s labor laws require all employers to pay their employees at the rate of one and one-half times their base pay rate if they work any hours over 40 in a single work week.

There is an exemption to this rule of overtime pay -- In New Mexico, the labor law applies to occupations and industries that adhere to the following legal criteria:

“Domestic or household workers, sales personnel compensated on a commission basis, employees of agricultural employers, seasonal cotton gin workers wherein each are employed not more than 14 weeks, government employees, employees paid on piece work, flat-rate or commission basis, non college students working after school or vacation, employees whom are under age 18 who are not students nor high school graduates, G.I bill trainees, seasonal employees under certificates from labor commissioner, registered apprentices and learners, foremen, superintendents and supervisors, volunteers for educational, charitable, religious or non profit organizations, live-in employees of charitable, religious, or non profit organizations for mentally retarded, emotionally and developmentally disabled persons and executive, administrative, and professional employees, as defined by federal law.”

New Mexico Labor Laws on Meals & Breaks

New Mexico has labor laws that do not require an employer to provide a meal period or lunch break to employees. Employees who do have bona fide meals or lunches do not have to be paid. Bona fide is a legal term -- it means those meal breaks the employee takes officially relieves them of all duties during the period of their break. The break must last for thirty minutes. Shorter breaks are applicable, but these instances are rarer and depend on the circumstance. Think of employees in New Mexico who utilize their break periods as “off the clock” during their breaks.Employees who have to work through a break are considered to be paid “under the table” in the eyes of the federal government. Short breaks an employee undertakes, which can last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, are all considered paid breaks.

New Mexico Labor Laws on Leave

New Mexico Leave Laws respects employers and their right to offer employees paid leave. This includes sick time, vacation time, holiday time off or paid time off, known as PTO, and sometimes, for inclement weather. These benefits are all discretionary, and their implementation depends on the employer.

New Mexico law and federal law do not require employers to propose paid leave of any kind. There are exemptions to the rule, however. Unpaid leave may be incurred mandatorily due to things like:

  • Military service
  • Family and medical emergencies
  • Injuries
  • Jury duty
  • Voting
  • Verifiable illnesses

Military leave assures employees security and tenure. If an individual takes time off from work for federal and state military service, their employers are legally obligated to reinstate them after their time off period, and cannot be discriminated against for serving in the military.

Employees can’t be fired without good cause inside of one year following their return from active duty. This is a legal requirement by way of both New Mexico law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

Medical and family leave falls under a similar category, thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers who have at least 50 employees have to give qualified employees as much as 12 weeks of time that’s unpaid per year for illness mitigation and healthcare.

Sometimes, longer leaves are assigned, but these situations are rarer and depend on circumstance. An employee on FMLA leave still has to be a part of the health benefits group and must be reinstated when their leave has concluded.

Domestic violence issues and other violence issues also incur leave, and employers are legally required to provide their employees with 14 days of unpaid time off each calendar year to handle legal issues surrounding domestic violence incidents.

Jury duty is also similar in that employees are allowed by New Mexico law to take time off for jury services. Employees cannot be forced to use PTO, or paid time off, for these proceedings, and an employer must comply with an employee’s obligation to serve jury duty.

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