New Required Colorado Sick Leave

On June 16, 2020, Colorado’s state Congress passed the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act to implement required sick leave pay for Colorado workers. Governor Polis has not yet signed the Act into law, but he is expected to do so. The effective date will be January 1, 2021.

Accrual and Eligibility Rules

  • Applies to all employers with more than 15 employees. Employers with 15 or fewer employees are exempt until 2022. In 2022, all employers, regardless of size, will be affected.
  • The emergency paid sick leave in case of a public health emergency applies to all employers, regardless of size, effective immediately.
  • Employees will be required to accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. This applies to both full-time and part-time employees.
  • Salaried employees will accrue based on an assumed 40-hour workweek.
  • Employees who are commission-based will also accrue based on their hours worked. Their rate of pay will be calculated by the amount of commissions earned divided by the hours worked.
  • The law does not apply to independent contractors.
  • Employees must be allowed to accrue at least 48 hours annually. Employers are welcome to set a cap at 48 hours or they may choose to allow additional accruals.
  • An annual carryover of up to 48 hours is allowed but employers may still implement a rule that only 48 hours can be used annually.
  • The use of sick pay must be allowed in at least hourly (or less) increments. For example, employers cannot require the use of a full-day or half-day of sick pay when the employee was absent for only an hour.

Reasons for Sick Leave Use 

  • For an employee to recover from a mental of physical illness.
  • For an employee to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness.
    • A family member is a person related to the employee by blood, marriage, civil union, or adoption.
  • The employee or employee’s family member was the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or sexual harassment and needs to be away from work for reasons related to the crime.
  • Public health emergencies (ALL EMPLOYERS, regardless of size) – effective immediately
    • If a public health emergency is declared, employers must automatically grant 80 hours of sick leave to all full-time employees. It will no longer be accrued incrementally. Part-time employees would need to receive an equivalent number of hours that he/she would have typically been scheduled to work during a 2-week period.
    • The extra hours granted to employees during a public health emergency can be on top of what an employee has already accrued. For example, if an employee has already accrued 40 hours of paid sick leave, the employer would only be required to grant an additional 40 hours.
    • The extra paid sick leave expires 4 weeks after the public health emergency is declared over.
    • The rules for use during a public health emergency are similar to those under the required coronavirus sick leave rules with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Additional Details

  • A new labor law poster will be required.
  • Employees who leave the company for any reason and are rehired within 6 months must be reinstated with the sick leave accrual amount from when they left the company.
  • An employer may not retaliate against an employee for using sick leave.
  • Employers are welcome to have a sick leave policy but cannot deny a sick leave request, even if the rules in the policy are not followed by the employee.
  • Employees must, in good faith, provide reasonable notice to employers that they are going to take sick time.
  • Employees must be allowed to request sick leave via a method they prefer, text message, email, phone call, etc. Employers may not require a specific method.
  • Employees must give a timeline on how long they expect the leave to be.
  • Employers may not require a doctor’s note unless the employee has been absent for 4 or more consecutive days/shifts.
  • Employers cannot make a rule that the employee needs to find a replacement to cover his/her shift.
  • Records of sick leave accruals and time taken must be maintained and kept for a minimum of three years.