Why The Healthy Workforce Ordinance is Bad for Albuquerque Businesses


Paid sick leave is a good thing, isn’t it?  I agree, but the Healthy Workforce Ordinance (paid sick leave) that Albuquerque is voting on in the Municipal Election on October 3rd is NOT a good thing.

The Healthy Workforce Ordinance is a bad deal. It sounds good on the surface because sick leave is important and businesses that don’t offer it absolutely should. Restaurants don’t tend to survive when their workers are serving up food with a side of the flu. We all do better when employees are well cared for.

But this new law doesn’t take care of Albuquerque’s workers. It is a one-size-fits-all approach. It assumes that every single business has the same needs, and it requires everyone to operate the same.  No other city in the country has a law so restrictive – this is like hanging a sign outside of Albuquerque saying that we’re the most difficult place in the U.S. to do business. That means fewer new construction projects, fewer new employers coming to town, and fewer jobs.

If this ordinance is passed, it will negatively impact every business in our city:  small, large, private, and even non-profits.  Almost without exception, every single company in Albuquerque will have to rework their time-off policies to be in compliance. That might mean offering more sick leave, but it will also mean cutting other benefits such as vacation or bonuses.

At TLC, our purpose is to improve the quality of life for our employees and the community as a whole. We were voted best places to work because we care about our employees and take care of them.  This policy impedes our ability to do so.

Holding businesses to the letter of the law means they will also be required to hold their employees to the letter of the law. Employers will simply have less flexibility to work with deserving employees on their schedules—they’ll have to meet the minimum requirements and nothing more.

Hard workers who have earned additional days off, or other rewards, will likely see those advantages disappear. Again, this ordinance is about tying everyone to the absolute minimum.

Not only that, but because of the way the law is written, companies would be required to record and book the expenses in a manner that seriously impacts our state taxes. All companies will suffer serious economic impacts, limiting resources that have historically been used to reward employees and foster growth. This means fewer resources for our state:  less money for teachers and schools, and less money for public programs – all of this in an already tight economy.

We all know that New Mexico struggles to keep up with the rest of the country. This law has us fighting with one hand tied behind our back.

Albuquerque isn’t perfect, but we need to work together to solve our problems. This law doesn’t do that. We know, because it was not written in Albuquerque. In fact, it is a duplicate of a law that was just proposed in Denver. Voters there shut it down because it was not written for their city, either.  It was written by special interest lawyers from the East Coast, and is being promoted with money from out-of-state. These special interest attorneys are just trying to find someone who will take their deal because they, not us, are the ones who will benefit.

This is a bad deal for Albuquerque. Let’s not take the bait.  Let’s not hurt our workers with a mandate written by outsiders who will not be the ones impacted by the results.  I encourage you to stand with your community and vote NO on the Healthy Workforce Ordinance; the health of our workers and our economy depends on it.

You can read the entire Healthy Workforce ordinance in its entirety on the City of Albuquerque’s website.