Labor and Employment Law Overview: New Mexico

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • New Mexico law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide equal pay protections. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • In New Mexico, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • New Mexico has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under New Mexico law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including military leave, voting leave, domestic violence leave, emergency responder leave and jury duty leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • New Mexico prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, New Mexico employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in New Mexico

New Mexico has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including a higher minimum wage and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as occupational safety and overtime pay.

Select New Mexico employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key New Mexico requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) protects employees from discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics, such as:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Ancestry;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Physical or mental handicap or serious medical condition;
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions);
  • Age;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender identity; and
  • Spousal affiliation.

The NMHRA generally applies to employers with four or more employees; however, the threshold for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is 15 or more employees, while the threshold for discrimination based on spousal affiliation is 50 or more employees.

In addition, the NMHRA prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes unlawful discrimination or who files a complaint, testifies or participates in any proceeding under the act.

Equal Pay

The Fair Pay for Women Act prohibits an employer from discriminating within any establishment between employees based on sex by paying lower wages to employees of the opposite sex for equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility and that are performed under similar working conditions. Exceptions may only be made under a seniority system, a merit system or a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in New Mexico can be found in the New Mexico Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): New Mexico, EEO - Discrimination: New Mexico, EEO - Harassment: New Mexico, EEO - Retaliation: New Mexico, New Mexico Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Mexico? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal and EEO - Retaliation: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key New Mexico requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

New Mexico's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. Currently, the state minimum wage is $7.50 per hour, with certain exceptions.

Breastfeeding Breaks

A New Mexico employer must provide flexible break times to allow a nursing mother to pump breast milk at work. An employer does not need to pay for a nursing mother's break time in addition to established employee breaks.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in New Mexico restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are prohibited from working in certain workplaces, including:

  • Any underground mine or quarry; and
  • Any place where explosives are used.

Minors who are under 16 years of age are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations, including any employment dangerous to lives and limbs, or injurious to the health or morals of children under the age of 16.

Minors who are 14 to 15 years of age may not work:

  • Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. during the calendar school year (after 9:00 p.m. outside the calendar school year);
  • More than three hours per day on school days;
  • More than eight hours per day when school is not in session;
  • More than 18 hours in school weeks; and
  • More than 40 hours in a nonschool weeks.

Different hours of work apply to minors employed in the performing arts.

New Mexico requires most working minors under 16 years of age to obtain a work permit.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in New Mexico can be found in the New Mexico Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: New Mexico, Hours Worked: New Mexico, Child Labor: New Mexico, New Mexico Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Mexico? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key New Mexico requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation

Under New Mexico law, an employer must offer continuation of heath care coverage for up to six months to an employee and his or her covered dependents who lose coverage due to termination of employment. After six months, a conversion policy must be offered.

A New Mexico employer also must provide continued coverage through a converted or separate policy to an employee's covered dependents upon the employee's death, divorce or legal separation.

Payment of Wages

Employee wages must be paid in cash, or by checks, payroll vouchers or drafts on banks, convertible into cash on demand at full face value. Wages may be paid by direct deposit under certain circumstances.

Pay Frequency

Nonexempt employees must be paid on regular paydays designated in advance. Employees may be paid semimonthly, up to 16 days apart.

Exempt employees may be paid on a monthly basis, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise.

Pay Statements

New Mexico employers are required to provide employees with a written receipt of certain pay-related information, including:

  • The identity of the employer;
  • Hours worked;
  • Gross pay;
  • Itemized deductions; and
  • Total wages and benefits earned.

Wage Deductions

Other than for required federal or state taxes (including Social Security and Medicare (FICA)), New Mexico law prohibits an employer from making deductions from an employee's wages without written authorization from the employee or a court order.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in New Mexico can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): New Mexico, Payment of Wages: New Mexico and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Mexico? Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

New Mexico has a few laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Military leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Voting leave;
  • Domestic violence leave; and
  • Emergency responder leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in New Mexico can be found in the New Mexico Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: New Mexico, Other Leaves: New Mexico, USERRA: New Mexico and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Mexico? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key New Mexico requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

With limited exceptions, New Mexico's Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in any enclosed indoor workplace, including in:

  • Offices;
  • Employee cafeterias, lunchrooms, break rooms and lounges;
  • Restrooms;
  • Hallways, stairways and elevators; and
  • Lobbies and reception areas.

An employer may provide a designated outdoor smoking area as long as it extends a reasonable distance from any entrances, windows and ventilation systems.

A New Mexico employer must also adopt, implement, post and maintain a written smoking policy and post "No Smoking" and "Smoking Permitted" signs at each public entrance to the workplace, as applicable.

Safe Driving Practices

New Mexico prohibits drivers from reading or viewing a text message or manually typing on a handheld mobile communication device for any purpose. In addition, commercial drivers may not use a handheld mobile device. Exceptions apply for contacting emergency or medical assistance.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in New Mexico can be found in the New Mexico Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: New Mexico, HR and Workplace Safety: New Mexico, New Mexico Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Mexico? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal and HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key New Mexico requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Employees who are involuntarily terminated must be paid within five days of termination if their wages are a fixed and definite amount and not based on task, piece, commission or other basis. All other involuntarily terminated employees must be paid within 10 days of termination.

An employee who quits or voluntarily resigns must be paid on the next regular payday.

If an employee dies, the employer may pay all unpaid wages due to the employee's surviving spouse.

References

An employer that acts in good faith when providing a job reference is immune from liability for comments about the employee's job performance. However, such immunity will not apply when the information supplied:

  • Was knowingly false or deliberately misleading;
  • Was rendered with malicious purpose; or
  • Violated the employee's civil rights.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in New Mexico can be found in Payment of Wages: New Mexico, Performance Appraisals: New Mexico and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in New Mexico? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Performance Appraisals: Federal.