Alert: State of Emergency in Colorado; Colo. Dept. of Labor to Create Emergency Sick Leave Rules

By Leni Plimpton

In the face of rising numbers of individuals with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Colorado, on Tuesday morning, March 10th, Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency. The Governor stated that this action was necessary to contain the rapid spread of Coronavirus and move quickly to protect “vulnerable populations.”

In his press conference, the Governor called on the private sector to “voluntarily” offer paid sick leave to those employees who don’t have it. Polis also announced that he had directed the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to create “emergency rules” that would ensure paid sick leave for workers in food handling, hospitality, child care, health care, and education. The rules would apparently allow workers in these industries to receive paid leave while awaiting testing for Covid-19, and perhaps longer.

Polis’s announcement left many questions unanswered, such as what the “emergency” rules would look like, how much paid sick leave would be required, exactly which employers would be covered, and what penalties for noncompliance might be.

For now, employers in the targeted industries should be extremely cautious when faced with an employee showing flu-like symptoms or who has a doctor’s note ordering coronavirus testing. Rules aside, it is a best practice to ensure that sick employees are able to stay home to avoid spreading the virus to the rest of your workforce, customers, and vendors.

If you have questions about sick leave, the new emergency rules, or anything else relating to your business’s Coronavirus response, reach out to an employment lawyer at Fortis Law Partners.

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