Colorado Employer Update: Expansion of Paid Leave

CO Employer Update: Healthy Families and Workplaces Act Expands Paid Leave

If you’re an employer with Colorado-based employees, you’re likely aware of your obligations to provide certain paid sick time off, as required by the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). Whether you have an accrual-based policy or a ‘flexible time off’ policy, you’ll want to note the expansion of the HFWA.

Effective as of August 7, 2023, the HFWA expanded to cover additional reasons for which employees can use paid leave. Per the HFWA, which was passed in 2020 and has been in effect since January 2021, employers are required to provide one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours, per year to Colorado employees. Under the original version of the law, employees could use this paid time off for the following reasons:

  1. Having a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents work,
  2. To obtain preventive medical care or a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition,
  3. To obtain medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, or legal or other victim services, or relocation required as a result of the employee (or the family member of an employee) being a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment,
  4. To care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, and
  5. Due to a public health emergency, a public official having closed either the employee’s place of business, or the school or place of care of the employee’s child, requiring the employee needing to be absent from work to care for the child.

In addition to the above reasons, employees may now use paid sick leave time to:

  1. Grieve, attend funeral services or a memorial, or deal with financial and legal matters that arise after the death of a family member,
  2. Care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather or loss of power, heat, or water, and
  3. Evacuate the employee’s residence due to inclement weather or loss of power, heat, or water.

If you have a flex time off policy that permits Colorado employees to take time off as needed and you do not require employees to provide information as to their reasons for taking time off, you likely don’t need to change your vacation/sick leave policies. However, if your policies strictly align with the HFWA, you may want to revisit them to make sure you’re providing proper notice to your employees of their rights under the HFWA. If you have a HFWA sick leave policy where sick leave is tracked separately from other vacation leave, this accrued but unused leave does not have to paid out upon the employee’s separation from employment. But if your policy tracks vacation and sick time off together, you may be required to pay out HFWA accrued leave upon an employee’s separation. For guidance on how to update your policies, please contact Niki Schwab or Brad Schoenfeld.

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