BY JESSICA DYER / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 at 12:44am
Less than two months after it was passed, Bernalillo County’s paid time off ordinance has undergone a makeover.
The County Commission on Tuesday night passed a few amendments to the hotly debated ordinance, most notably establishing different requirements for businesses based on size.
Under the ordinance passed on Aug. 20, businesses with at least two employees would have had to give every worker at least 56 hours of paid leave per year by 2022 after a phase-in period that begins next year.
The new version relaxes the standard for companies with smaller staffs. Those with two to 10 employees will need to offer workers only 28 hours of time off at full implementation. Those with 11 to 34 workers will be required to offer 44 hours.
“I wish money grew on trees and we all had an orchard to give out benefits and paid time off to everybody, but that’s not the reality,” said Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty, who co-sponsored the amendment with Steven Michael Quezada. “… This is the best we can come up with.”
The ordinance – which applies only to the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County, such as the East Mountains and the South Valley – also changed in other ways.
The commission moved up the implementation date to Jan. 1, 2020, from July 1, 2020. The board also stiffened the penalties for noncompliance, allowing employees who prevailed in their complaints and experienced “retaliation or adverse action” to recover back pay at time and a half, instead of the regular rate.
“I think if companies aren’t paying employees their due, there should be some punitive damages to that,” said Quezada, who sponsored that change.