Colorado: Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (SB20-205)

Last Updated on August 11, 2020 by bigfish-admin

Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

Paid Sick Leave – Colorado 


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado’s Governor Polis signed the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act into law. Starting next year, or later for smaller employers, this act will require Colorado employers to provide their employees with up to six paid sick days a year – potentially more if there is a public health emergency. This act will also immediately extend COVID-related paid sick leave protections to those employees not covered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). 

Effective immediately through December 31, 2020, the HFWA requires all employers comply with the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act in the FFCRA, regardless of size. This act fills certain coverage gaps in the FFCRA, which originally makes paid sick leave available for certain employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but does not apply to employers with 500 or more employees. HFWA will extend paid sick leave, to be equivalent of that provided under the FFCRA, to all employees in the state of Colorado – regardless of employer size. 

The HFWA requires all Colorado employers, regardless of size, to provide additional amounts of paid sick leave during a public health emergency in an amount based on number of hours worked. 

Beginning on January 1, 2021, for employers with 16 or more employees, HFWA will require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, to be accrued at one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, for a maximum of 48 hours per year. Effective January 1, 2022, this will extend to employers of all sizes. 

An employee begins accruing paid sick leave at the start of employment, and may use sick leave as it is accrued and also may carry forward and use in subsequent calendars years up to 48 hours of paid sick leave that is not used in the year which it is accrued.

Employees may use accrued paid sick leave for the following reasons: 

  • Mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition – requiring medical diagnosis, care or treatment (related to such illness, injury, or condition).
  • Need to obtain preventative medical care.
  • Need to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition – requiring medical diagnosis, care or treatment (related to such illness, injury, or condition), or needing to obtain preventative care.
  • Employee (or a family member) has been the victim of domestic abuse, assault, or harassment – and is required to miss work for purposes related to such crime.
  • A public official has ordered the closure of schools, or places of care for the employee’s child due to a public health emergency. 

Employers may only require physician’s notes when employees are out of work for sickness for four or more consecutive days.

The act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who use paid sick leave or exercise rights overwise covered under this act. Any employer found in violation of this act is liable to the employee for back pay and other equitable damages. 

Employers must provide written notice to their employees, that they are entitled to paid sick leave while also posting the required notices in the workplace or making them available on a virtual-platforms for employees – such as iSolved offered through Big Fish. 

Colorado now joins 12 other states, including California, that have passed statewide paid sick leave. 

Action Items: 

  • Review Existing Policies. Review your existing PTO practices, especially as related to COVID-19. 
  • Update PTO Policies. Update existing paid sick leave policies and begin to implement necessary changes to comply with SB20-205. 
  • Communicate Changes. Communicate all upcoming changes to employees, letting them know of any changes to your existing policies or new policies.  

Big Fish will continue to report on further developments with this law and other paid leave laws nationwide. 

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