Employers should be aware that beginning on January 1, 2022, all employers with at least one employee in Colorado must provide paid sick leave to their employees. This is an extension of SB20-205, known as the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act” (“HFWA”), which initially went into effect on January 1, 2021.
Pursuant to the HFWA, employers must provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours total. An employee begins accruing paid sick leave when their employment begins and may use paid sick leave as it is accrued. For accrual purposes, an employee who is exempt from overtime accrues paid sick leave based on the assumption that the employee works forty hours per week. Non-exempt employees accrue paid sick leaves based on the number of hours that comprise the employee’s normal work week.
The employee may roll-over up to 48 hours of paid sick leave, but the employer is not required to make a financial or monetary to payout to an employee for unused paid sick leave. An employer is also not required to allow the employee to use more than 48 hours of paid sick leave in a year.
Employees may use accrued paid sick leave to be absent from work for the following purposes:
The employee has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
The employee needs to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
The employee or family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment and needs to be absent from work for purposes related to such crime; or
A public official has ordered the closure of the school or place of care of the employee’s child or of the employee’s place of business due to a public health emergency, necessitating the employee’s absence from work.
The HFWA also requires employers to supplement employees’ accrued unpaid sick leave during a public health emergency to levels similar to the current COVID-19 paid sick leave relief instituted by the HFWA.
What Steps Should Employers Take Now?
Employers must notify employees of their rights under the HFWA by:
Providing employees with a written notice of their rights, including the specific amount of sick leave entitled to the employees and stating that the employer cannot retaliate against employees for requesting or using paid sick leave;
Displaying a poster developed by the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics in in a conspicuous and accessible location; and
Confirming that their policies align with the HFWA and that their employee handbooks are updated to reflect those policies.
If a Colorado employer already has a paid sick leave policy that complies with the HFWA, then no additional paid sick leave is required. The penalty for not providing the notice or the poster is a civil fine not to exceed $100 for each violation. Meaning, an employer who fails to provide notice and a poster could be fined $200.
If you have additional questions or concerns about complying with the HFWA or want to ensure that your paid sick leave policy complies with the HFWA, the experienced employment lawyers at Fortis Law Partners are happy to help. Contact Liz Hartsel for more information or to arrange a consultation.
1 From January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021, only employers with sixteen or more employees were required to provide paid sick leave to their employees under the HFWA.