In November 2020, Colorado became the first state to pass a paid family and medical leave law by popular vote, joining a wave of similar laws since enacted in several other states. The law will allow Colorado employees to access paid time off, which can be used to recuperate from a medical condition, childbirth, or care for a sick family member. The Fortis employment law team has received many questions from clients seeking strategic counsel and answers to questions about the new law. Read on to learn what employers should understand about the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. If you have additional questions about the FAMLI law, you can read Fortis employment law attorney Leni Plimpton’s previous blog posts here and here, or reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Law?
The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program is a mandatory, state-administered program that enables all Colorado employees to take paid leave from work to take care of their health or address the medical needs of their family members. Contributions from both employees and employers provide funding for the program.
Under FAMLI, employees will be eligible to receive twelve weeks of paid leave. In addition, employees can claim an additional four weeks of paid leave for childbirth or pregnancy complications. The maximum weekly benefit is $1,100.
Starting January 1, 2023, employers were required to collect payroll deductions for FAMLI premiums. For employers with ten or more employees, the premium is a total of 0.9% of the employee’s wages, of which half is paid by the employer and half is paid by the employee. Employers with nine or fewer employees only need to deduct the employee share of .45%. Employers also were obligated to provide specific notices to employees about the benefits to which they are entitled in Colorado, under the new paid leave law. On January 1, 2024, FAMLI paid leave benefits will become available to most Colorado employees.
When was the first FAMLI premium installment due from employers in Colorado?
The first FAMLI quarterly premium installment was due by March 31, 2023, but the deadline was extended to April 30, 2023.
What Does FAMLI Law Mean for Colorado Employees?
FAMLI will provide paid leave benefits and relief to workers in Colorado. Beginning January 1, 2024, employees are eligible to receive paid leave for any of the following purposes:
- To care for a child during the first year after birth. This also applies to adoption or foster care placement.
- To care for a family member suffering from a serious medical condition.
- To manage their own serious health condition.
- To make arrangements for military deployments.
- To address immediate safety needs and the impact of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Workers in Colorado can apply for paid leave for any of the above mentioned purposes and are eligible to receive approximately 90% of their weekly wages while on leave. However, employees cannot opt out of this program, even if they never intend to avail themselves of its benefits.
Eligibility Criteria for FAMLI
The eligibility criteria for FAMLI Colorado benefits are straightforward: all Colorado workers who have earned $2,500 in wages over the previous year from their employers are eligible for FAMLI leave. Employees are also entitled to job protection if they have worked at least 180 days for an employer. If an employee has worked at least 180 days for an employer and then goes on FAMLI leave when they return, their employer will be obliged to restore them to the same or a comparable position to the one held before the leave began.
Does FAMLI require employers to compensate their employees for paid leave?
No, FAMLI is a state-administered program, so the State of Colorado is responsible for paying the benefits while employees are on leave. However, employers must continue to cover any healthcare benefits in the same manner as the employee was entitled to prior to the leave.
Which employees are eligible for FAMLI leave?
Any employee that has earned $2,500 in wages for work performed in the State of Colorado within the prior year is eligible for FAMLI leave beginning on January 1, 2024.
What should employees do if an employer interferes with their right to take FAMLI leave?
Employees can contact the FAMLI division of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment if their employer is interfering with the employee’s right to take FAMLI leave.
What should employers do if they suspect that an employee is abusing FAMLI?
In this tricky situation, consult with an experienced employment attorney to evaluate risks and options.
How long is the duration of the paid leave?
Employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. In addition, in case of serious health conditions caused by pregnancy or childbirth complications, the leave can be extended for four additional weeks.
Do employers have to pay a premium to FAMLI Colorado?
Employers with ten or more employees must pay 0.45% of their employees’ salary as the FAMLI premium. Employers with nine or fewer employees are not responsible for paying any employer’s premium.