Colorado has enacted legislation (Senate Bill 20-205) that will require employers to provide paid sick leave and public health emergency leave to employees. The leave must be paid at least at the same rate the employee normally earns during worked hours.
Paid Sick Leave (All Employers):
Effective January 1, 2021, employers with 16 or more employees must provide paid sick leave to their employees. For employers with 15 or fewer employees, this paid sick leave requirement takes effect January 1, 2022.
Accrual and Carryover:
Paid sick leave must accrue at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours. Accrual begins when employment starts or the applicable effective date, whichever is later. However, employers have the option of providing all the paid sick leave at the beginning of the year, a practice commonly known a frontloading.
Employees are entitled to carry over up to 48 hours of unused paid sick leave to the following year.
Employees may use paid sick leave as it is accrued. The leave may be used for the following purposes:
- The employee's or a family member's mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
- The employee's or a family member's need for a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to an illness, injury, or condition;
- The employee or a family member needs to obtain preventive medical care;
- The employee or family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment and needs to:
- A public official has ordered the closure of the school or place of care of the employee's child or the employee's place of business due to a public health emergency.
Notice and Documentation:
When the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee must make a good-faith effort to provide advance notice and schedule the leave so that it doesn't unduly disrupt the employer's operations. While employers may have a policy with reasonable procedures for providing notice when the need for leave is foreseeable, employers are prohibited from denying leave based on noncompliance with the policy.
For absences of four or more consecutive work days, employers may require reasonable documentation that the leave is for a covered purpose.
Public Health Emergency Leave (All Employers)
In addition to the paid sick leave discussed above, employers must provide public health emergency leave (PHEL) in an amount based on the number of hours the employee works.
- Full time employees: Employees who normally work 40 hours or more per week are entitled to at least 80 hours of PHEL.
- Part-time employees: Employees who normally work fewer than 40 hours in a week are entitled to at least the greater of either the amount of time the employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time the employee actually works during an average 14-day period.
Employees are only eligible for PHEL in the amounts described above once during the entirety of the public health emergency, even if it is amended, extended, restated, or prolonged. Employees may use PHEL until four weeks after the official public health emergency. Employers may count an employee's unused paid sick leave toward the PHEL the law requires.
Note: The law doesn't indicate when the PHEL requirements take effect. We will monitor the status and provide updates if the state provides additional guidance.
A public health emergency is defined as:
- An act of bioterrorism, a pandemic flu, or an epidemic caused by a novel and highly fatal infectious agent for which an emergency has been declared by a federal, state, or local public health agency or a disaster emergency declared by the governor; or
- A highly infectious illness or agent with epidemic or pandemic potential for which a disaster emergency is declared by the governor.
Employees may use PHEL for the following purposes:
- To self-isolate because they are diagnosed with, or experience symptoms of, the communicable illness that is the cause for the public health emergency;
- To seek or obtain medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms associated with a communicable illness that is the cause of the public health emergency;
- To seek preventive care concerning a communicable illness that is the cause of the public health emergency;
- If local officials or the employee's employer determines that the individual's presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the individual's exposure to the communicable illness or because the employee is exhibiting symptoms of the communicable illness (regardless of diagnosis);
- To care for a family member to whom any of the above applies;
- To care for a child or other family member when the child's care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency, or if the child's or family member's school or place of care has been closed due to a public health emergency, including if a school or place of care is physically closed but providing instruction remotely; or
- If an employee is unable to work because the employee has a health condition that may increase susceptibility to or risk of communicable illness that is the cause of the public health emergency.
Notice and Documentation:
If the need for leave is foreseeable and the workplace is open, employees must notify their employer as soon as practical. Documentation isn't required for employees to use PHEL.
COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (Employers with 500 or More Employees):
Effective immediately and through December 31, 2020, all employers must provide each employee with emergency paid sick leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the amounts and for the purposes specified in the emergency paid sick leave provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Since the FFCRA already covers employers with fewer than 500 employees, Senate Bill 20-205 effectively extends the emergency paid sick leave requirements to larger employers so that all employers in the state must now comply with the FFCRA leave requirements.
Anti-Retaliation (All Employers):
Senate Bill 20-205 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who uses leave to which they are entitled or otherwise exercises their rights under the law.
Employer Notice and Recordkeeping (All Employers):
Employers must provide employees with a written notice of their rights and display a poster developed by the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics. The poster must be displayed in English and in any language that is the first language spoken by at least 5% of the employer's workforce. If an employer's business is closed due to a public health emergency or a disaster emergency due to a public health concern, the posting requirement is waived for the period during which the business is closed.
If an employer does not maintain a physical workplace, or an employee teleworks or performs work through a web-based platform, the employer should provide the notice through electronic communication or a conspicuous posting in the web-based platform.
For each employee, employers must retain for two years records documenting the hours worked, leave accrued, and leave used.
Colorado employers should ensure compliance with Senate Bill 20-205 and train supervisors on handling requests for leave. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.