Keeping track of numerous employment laws and applying them correctly can be a daunting task. Many New Mexico employers may be unaware of and unwittingly out of compliance with the following state wage and hour laws:
1. The New Mexico Wage Payment Act (NMSA 50-4-1 to 50-4-4) considers accrued vacation or leave time to be wages that are due and payable at the time of an employee’s separation (voluntary or involuntary).
In past practices, the NM Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) has allowed employers to utilize a waiver to indicate that accrued vacation will not be paid out at the end of employment. Essentially, if the employer has policy in place stating that accrued vacation will not be paid out at the end of employment, the policy is provided to all employees for review, and all employees sign acknowledgment of the policy, the employer is not required to pay the accrued vacation at separation of employment.
However, the DWS has recently updated the definitions of wages within the regulations. In recent dispute cases, employers have been required to pay the accrued leave at separation, even with a non-payment policy in place. This new information suggests the safest route is to pay out the accrued leave upon separation of employment, but consult an employment attorney to explore all of your options.
2. New Mexico state statute 50-4-2: Semi-monthly and monthly pay days
This provision contains wording that bars an employer from:
· Requiring all employees to sign up for and be paid by direct deposit.
· Holding an employee’s paycheck beyond payday for any reason.
· Taking deductions from an employee’s paycheck without written authorization or a court order (make sure you have a signed agreement for any company property or other deductions you may want to take).
3. New Mexico state statute 50-4-13: Hours of Employment; Eating Establishments
This one states that your hotel and restaurant employees cannot be required to work more than 10 hours per day: “Any person or persons, firm, association or corporation, owning any hotel, restaurant, cafe or eating house within this state, shall not be allowed to cause any employee therein to labor more than ten hours in any twenty-four hours of any one day, nor more than seventy hours in any one week of seven days”.
Now is a good time to check your company policies to ensure compliance and confirm that your leave policies outline exactly what happens to accrued time off when an employee leaves employment. Engage with a knowledgeable HR Consultant or Employment Attorney assist you with policy and handbook updates. You will find a helpful and easy to read fact sheet with more information on New Mexico wage and hour laws here: