Paid Sick Leave CO Healthy Family and Workplaces Act Upcoming Changes

The COVID-19 era brought changes not only to our personal lives, but also to our career lives as well. Colorado State Legislature enacted SB20-205 which required all employers in the state of Colorado, except those with 15 or less employees to provide paid sick leave. Starting on January 1, 2022 round two of the HFWA goes into effect. This means all employers in the state of Colorado will be required to provide paid sick leave no matter the number of employees.

Here are a few reminders as to how the HFWA is expected to work:

  • An employee should begin accruing paid sick leave when employment begins.
  • The sick leave may also carry forward and be used in the subsequent calendar years up to 48 hours of paid sick leave that is not used in the year it was accrued.
  • Employees are entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • The employer is not required to provide more than 48 hours of paid sick leave in a year unless they choose to do so.
  • Leave must be paid at the same hourly rate as employees’ salary.
  • Requiring “reasonable documentation” is only allowable if the leave is 4 or more consecutive days
  • An employer who already provides an equivalent or a more generous paid leave is exempt from the HFWA requirements.
    • The law states, “An employer that, under a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), already provides “equivalent or more generous” paid leave is exempt from other HFWA requirements, as long as the ways the CBA differs from HFWA would not diminish employee rights to “equivalent” paid leave.”

What qualifies as “Paid Sick Leave”? The door for that answer if far more open than it used to be. Employees may use their accrued sick leave for:

  • Employees with any mental or physical illness that prevents them from working.
  • Medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of physical or mental illness.
  • Preventative medical care
  • To care for a family member of any of those previously mentioned requirements.
  • If the employee or family member has been a victim of any kind of abuse or harassment
  • Public officials have ordered closures of schools or place of care for the employee’s child
  • If the place of business closes due to a public health emergency.

Just another big reminder that this is for all employers in the state of Colorado.  If you have less than 15 employees you still need to comply, if not there could be some penalties including:

  • Reinstating employees who were terminated for using their sick time
  • Compensation for an employee’s lost pay (up to $7,500)

All these changes can be hard to keep straight.  It often feels anymore that by the time we get use to one change the rug gets pulled out beneath us. That’s what we are here for, to help keep all these changes in line for our clients.