Colorado: New Law Implements Mandatory Three-Pronged Paid Sick Leave Requirements


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On July 15, 2020, the Health Families & Workplaces Act (HWFA) went into effect, instituting a three-part mandatory statewide paid sick leave requirement on all employers.  The three types of paid sick leave include COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave, paid sick and safe time, and public health emergency paid sick leave.  Some provisions have a delayed effective date.

COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Effective July 15, 2020 through December 31, 2020, the HWFA expands the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to all Colorado employers by extending its eligibility requirements.  The federal FFCRA is not applicable to large scale of employers of 500 or more employees.  However, the HWFA requires large employers to provide emergency paid sick leave in the same amount and for the same purposes as FFCRA.

Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)

  1. Effective Date:
    1. Employers of 16+ Employees: January 1, 2021
    2. Employers of 15 or Fewer: January 1, 2022
  2. Eligibility: All employees; excludes independent contractors, employees subject to federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, and employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides equal or more generous paid sick leave.
  3. Leave Amount:
    1. Accrual: One hour of PSST for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year.
    2. Frontload: Employers may alternatively provide the full bank of 48 hours (or more) at the beginning of the year.
  4. Carryover: Up to 48 hours of accrued, unused PSST may be carried over to the following year. The HWFA does not specify whether frontloading policies are exempt from the carryover provision.
  5. Usage: Employees may use PSST as soon as it accrues, to a maximum of 48 hours per year. Employees may use PSST for their own or a family member’s mental or physical health conditions, for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment, or in public heath emergencies.
  6. Employee Notice: Employers may request reasonable documentation evidencing PSST was used for a covered purpose for leave lasting four or more consecutive workdays.
  7. Payout: PSST is generally not required to be paid out upon separation of employment. However, if retaliatory employment action prevented the individual from using PSST, the individual may recover PSST.
  8. Reinstatement: Accrued, unused PSST must be reinstated for employees rehired within six months of employment.

Public Health Emergency Paid Sick Leave (PHEL)

The public health emergency paid sick leave supplements paid sick and safe time by providing PHEL only once during the entirety of a qualifying public health emergency.  PHEL must be provided in the following amounts:

  • Employees working 40 or more hours per week: at least 80 hours.
  • Employees working fewer than 40 hours per week: 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, whichever is greater.

Employers may count an employee’s unused PSST towards the PHEL time requirements. Further, PHEL is available only once during the entirety of a public health emergency, even if the health emergency is amended, extended, restated, or prolonged.  PHEL time may be used until four weeks after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.

The HWFA does not provide a specific date for when employers must begin complying with the PHEL requirements.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must provide all employees notice of their leave entitlement and rights under the HWFA.  Additionally, employers must also display a poster containing such information in English and any language spoken by at least 5% of the employer’s workforce.  The posting may be communicated through electronic distribution or posting if there is no physical workspace or if an employee teleworks.Employers must also keep records for two years documenting hours worked and accrual and usage of paid sick leave.


Action Items

  1. Review the text of the HWFA here.
  2. Prepare for implementation of the new sick leave requirements, including having employee handbooks, policies, and payroll practices updated.
  3. Distribute required notices and display required posters.
  4. Have managers trained on paid sick leave use requirements.
  5. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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