Understanding New Mexico’s Labor Laws

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage rates in New Mexico after scheduled increases started in 2020:

Non-tipped Employees

  • January 1, 2023 – $12.00
  • January 1, 2022 – $11.50
  • January 1, 2021 – $10.50
  • January 1, 2020 – $9.00
  • January 1, 2009 – $7.50

Tipped Employees

  • January 1, 2023 – $3.00
  • January 1, 2022 – $2.80
  • January 1, 2021 – $2.55
  • January 1, 2020 – $2.35
  • January 1, 2009 – $2.13

Employees who customarily receive at least $30 per month in tips must receive at least the tipped minimum wage rate per hour from the employer, and the employee’s wage and tips must combine to equal at least the regular minimum wage rate per hour. If a worker meets an exemption under New Mexico law (meaning he is not an “employee” and is not entitled to minimum wage), he may still be entitled to minimum wage under federal law, which is currently $7.25.

The following cities and counties have enacted a higher minimum wage than New Mexico state law:


The city of Albuquerque has set 2 different minimum wage rates depending on if an employer offers healthcare and/or childcare benefits of $2500 or more per year to the employee.

Minimum Wage Rates:

  • 2022: With benefits:  $10.50/hour*.  Without Benefits:  $11.50/hour.  Tipped:  $6.90/hour.                        (* superseded by the state minimum wage of $11.50/hour)
  • 2021: With benefits:  $9.50/hour*.  Without Benefits:  $10.50/hour.  Tipped:  $6.30/hour.                       (* superseded by the state minimum wage of $10.50/hour)
  • 2020: With benefits:  $8.35/hour.  Without Benefits:  $9.35/hour.  Tipped:  $5.60/hour.
  • 2019: With benefits:  $8.20/hour.  Without Benefits:  $9.20/hour.  Tipped:  $5.50/hour.
  • 2018: With benefits:  $7.95/hour.  Without Benefits:  $8.95/hour.  Tipped:  $5.35/hour.
  • 2017: With benefits: $7.80/hour.  Without Benefits:  $8.80/hour.  Tipped:  $5.30/hour.
  • 2016: With benefits: $7.75/hour.  Without Benefits:  $8.75/hour.  Tipped:  $5.25/hour.

The tipped employee must earn enough tips to bring their total wages to the applicable minimum wage amount listed above.

Bernalillo County:

Minimum wage rates for Bernalillo County:

  • In January 2022: $9.45* (note: the higher state minimum wage rate of $11.50 supersedes this rate)
  • In January 2021: $9.35* (note: the higher state minimum wage rate of $10.50 supersedes this rate)
  • In January 2020: $9.20
  • In January 2019: $9.05
  • In January 2018: $8.85
  • In January 2017: $8.70
  • In January 2015: $8.65
  • In January 2014: $8.50
  • In July 2013:        $8.00
  • Prior to July 2013: $7.50

Tipped employees may be paid $2.13/hour as long as their tips bring them to at least the minimum wage amount.

Las Cruces:

Minimum wage rates within the city limits of Las Cruces:

  • In January 2022: $11.50 – Tipped $4.60
  • In January 2021: $10.50  – Tipped $4.20
  • In January 2020: $10.25  – Tipped $4.10
  • In January 2019: $10.10 – Tipped $4.04
  • In January 2017: $9.20 – Tipped $3.68
  • In January 2015: $8.40 – Tipped $3.36

Santa Fe:

​The minimum wage in the City of Santa Fe increases with any increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Santa Fe minimum wage rates:

  • 2022 – Increase expected based on CPI as of 3/1/2022
  • 2021 $12.32 effective 3/1/2021
  • 2020 $12.10
  • 2019 $11.80
  • 2018 $11.40
  • 2017 $11.09
  • 2016 $10.91
  • 2015 $10.84

The city ordinance does not set a separate minimum wage for tipped employees; therefore, employers must comply with the state or federal law which requires tipped employees be paid at least $2.13/hour.

Santa Fe County:

Minimum wage rates for Santa Fe County are as follows and will increase on March 1, 2020 with any increase in the Consumer Price Index:

Year    Wage    Tipped
2019   $11.80   $3.53
2018   $11.40   $3.41
2017   $11.09   $3.32
2016   $10.91   $3.27
2015   $10.84   $3.25
2014   $10.66   $3.20

This applies to businesses located in Santa Fe county outside the incorporated boundaries of the City of Santa Fe, City of Espanola, and the Town of Edgewood. The minimum wage is will be raised on March 1st of each year if the cost of living increases. The base wage for tipped employees is 30% of the minimum wage rate.

Overtime Pay in New Mexico:

New Mexico overtime laws follow federal law for overtime in many respects, but varies in a few important ways specific to the New Mexico overtime laws – including the potential for workers to recover up to three times the amount of unpaid back overtime wages they are owed. All non-exempt employees are required to be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 in a seven-day week. Although the 40-hour workweek averages out to the standard eight hours per weekday, overtime is calculated on a weekly basis according to New Mexico overtime laws. This means that even if an employee works 12 hours in one workday, he is not entitled to overtime pay unless he works more than 40 hours in that week. New Mexico wage law prohibits employers from requiring an employee to work more than 16 hours in a day, except in emergency situations.

Specific Exemptions:

Employers must follow both the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act and United States federal law, which require employers to pay all “employees” a minimum wage and increased rate for overtime. However, the definition of employee has many exceptions under New Mexico labor law. The following people are not considered employees, under New Mexico overtime laws, meaning they are not entitled to minimum wage or overtime under state law:

  • Person paid on a commission or piece-work basis
  • Person employed in a bona fide Executive, Administrative, or Professional capacity, regardless of how the person is compensated (salary, hourly, day-rate, etc.)
  • To qualify for the Executive exemption, the worker’s primary duty must be performing nonmanual work related to managing a business, he must exercise discretion, he must perform specialized work, and cannot perform more than 20% nonexempt work.
  • Foreman, superintendent, or supervisor
  • Salesperson (all salespeople including outside salespeople)
  • Agricultural worker meeting certain criteria
  • Person employed in or about a private home
  • Volunteer for nonprofit organizations
  • Student working after school or on vacation
  • Non-student under the age of 19
  • Person employed by any level of government
  • Registered apprentice
  • Person employed by an ambulance service
  • G.I. bill trainee, while training
  • Seasonal employee covered by a valid certificate from the Labor and Industrial Commission
  • Computer Professionals are presumably covered in many instances as bona fide Professionals, although not explicitly addressed by the Minimum Wage Act

Unlike federal overtime law, the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act does not have an exemption for employees who work for certain motor carriers – this includes interstate commerce drivers who operate vehicles over 10,000 lbs GVWR. This means that certain truck drivers in New Mexico may be entitled to overtime pay, despite being exempt from overtime pay under federal law.

Holidays & Vacation in New Mexico:

New Mexico follows the federal law, meaning it does not require additional pay for work done on holidays or weekends. Employers are not required to offer pay for time not worked, including vacations or holidays. These policies are at the discretion of the employer. On each Election Day in New Mexico, employers must give their employees two paid hours of leave so that they can vote.

New Mexico Meal Breaks & Rest Periods:

New Mexico wage law implies that any breaks allowed by the employer less than thirty minutes must be treated as working time for which the employee must be paid. Under federal law, breaks of thirty minutes or more do not require pay, as long as the employee is relieved fully of his or her duties.

Reporting Time Pay:

Neither New Mexico nor the Federal law requires payment if an employee reports to work expecting to work for a certain number of hours but does not get to work their full schedule.

New Mexico Pay Periods:

Employers in New Mexico must set paydays no more than 16 days apart. More specifically, wages for hours worked between the 1st and 16th of the month must be paid by the 25th of that month. Wages for hours worked after the 16th must be paid by the 10th of the following month. Employers may opt to pay the following workers on a monthly basis, rather than semi-monthly:

  • Administrative
  • Executive
  • Professional
  • Outside salesperson
  • Workers paid on a commission, piece- or day-rate basis

Statute of Limitations:

Employees seeking unpaid overtime wages under state law have one year to file suit. Employees bringing wage claims must bring suit within three years of the alleged violation. Under federal law, overtime claims can recover pay going back either two or three years from the date a lawsuit is filed.

Remedies / Penalties / Retaliation:

New Mexico employers who unlawfully withhold wages are liable for as much as double the amount of unpaid wages plus costs, and attorney’s fees. Failure to pay appropriate wages is also a crime. In addition to civil penalties, employers can also face misdemeanor charges. In New Mexico, there are no opt-in requirements for employees to bring class action lawsuits against employers who fail to properly pay employees. New Mexico specifically prohibits retaliation against any employee seeking proper payment from an employer under the Minimum Wage Act. Employers may not demote, discharge, deny promotion, or discriminate in any way against an employee who is asserting a claim or right under the law.

Day Laborers New Mexico has taken special care to protect day laborers by passing the Day Laborer Act. This law governs day laborer service agencies, defined as entities (labor broker, labor pool, etc.) that provide day laborers to third-party employers for a fee. These employees must be paid in cash or with a common instrument payable in cash (check, money order, pre-paid card, etc.) and be given a statement showing each and every deduction that has been made. Employers who do not properly pay day laborers are liable for three times the entire amount of unpaid wages, plus costs, and attorney’s fees.

Contact us today and we can give you more information about New Mexico overtime laws, including a free and confidential review your specific circumstances.