Under Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), most Colorado employers are required to offer paid sick and safe leave to Colorado employees. Covered employers with 16 or more employees must begin offering paid sick and safe leave beginning on January 1, 2021, while covered employers with 15 or fewer employees have an additional year to comply. Covered employers will also have to provide additional leave during public health emergencies under the HFWA.
Sick and Safe Leave
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 48 hours of paid sick and safe leave annually, either by accrual method or front-loading. If employers opt to use the accrual method, sick and safe leave must accrue at a rate of at least one hour per every 30 hours worked. Employees are able to use sick and safe leave as it accrues.
Sick and safe leave must be paid at an employee’s regular rate of pay, and can be used when an employee is unable to work for the following reasons:
- an employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- the employee is obtaining preventive medical care, or a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- the employee is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment who needs leave for medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, victim services (including legal), or relocation
- the employee is caring for a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, aiding their family member in obtaining medical care or treatment, or receiving the aforementiond care or services related to being a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment
- during public health emergencies, if a public official closes the employee’s place of work, or if the employee must provide childcare due to emergency closures of schools and daycare facilities
Employers may request reasonable supporting documentation for sick and safe leave after an employee has been out of the office for four consecutive scheduled work days.
Public Health Emergency Leave
The HWFA includes additional sick leave requirements in the event of a public health emergency, such as a novel infectious disease or epidemic. When a state of emergency is declared by any level of government, the HWFA requires covered employers to provide time off in addition to the required safe and sick leave described above. Such employers are required to provide at least:
- an additional 80 hours of public health emergency leave, for employees who normally work 40 or more hours per week
- an additional amount of public health emergency leave corresponding to the amount of hours scheduled to be worked or actually worked (whichever is greater) during an average 14-day period, for any employee working less than 40 hours per week
Setting up a compliant policy
Employers must set up a compliant policy that indicates the reasons for an employee to use sick and safe leave under state and local laws. Best practices are addressed in this Justworks Help Center article here.
Existing leave policies should be reviewed to ensure employees are granted the required amount of time off each year and that other minimum standards are met. Employers may choose to combine sick leave with an existing PTO policy, but the existing policy should meet the minimum requirements of the sick leave law and any remaining time may have to be paid to the employee upon termination.
Unlimited or flexible PTO policies should be reviewed to ensure that they also meet the minimum requirements of the law, such as notice and documentation requirements.
You can review how to build out your sick leave and other PTO policies in Justworks here.