Paid Leave Requirements for Colorado Employers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In 2020, The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issued guidance (INFO #6A and #6B) to employers regarding the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”). INFO #6C summarizes how paid leave differs (1) from requirements in 2020 to those in 2021; and (2) between federal and Colorado law. These Colorado Department of Labor and Employment interpretive notices give guidance to employers as to the paid leave requirements for 2022.

As many employers know, starting on January 1, 2021, a Colorado employer was required to provide each employee with a new supplement of at least 80 hours of public health emergency leave, regardless of paid leave provided in 2020, or employer size. In 2020, all COVID-19 related paid leave was provided under HFWA § 406, which adopted and expanded federal paid leave. In 2021, the COVID-19 related paid leave was provided under HFWA § 405, based on a public health emergency declaration.

Under the HFWA, an employer must provide at least 80 hours of public health emergency leave during the continuance of a particular public health emergency. Therefore, as COVID-19 public health emergency carries on into 2022, an employer need not provide another 80 hours of paid leave under HFWA § 405 for the calendar year as it is the same public health emergency continuing into 2022. Employers must still provide the 48-hour general sick leave under HFWA § 403. But an employer can count an employee’s unused accrued paid sick leave provided under § 403 to the 80 hour leave provided under HFWA § 405.

Effective January 1, 2022, the HFWA covers all employers and all employees in Colorado, exempting the federal government, and employees subject to the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. Employers with fewer than 16 employees were exempt in 2021 from providing their employees with 48-hour accrued paid leave, but starting in 2022 they are no longer exempt from that provision.

Beginning in 2024, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (“PFMLIA”) provides for up to 12 weeks of paid leave for family and medical needs. Many employers within Colorado will be required to participate in this program, which will be administered by a new Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Wells Anderson & Race LLC’s team of experienced employment lawyers can advise your business in how to maintain compliance under the HFWA. Contact Katie Pratt or Chelsie Smith for additional information.

INFO #6C may be located here.


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