Colorado Mandates Employee Paid Leave for All

We knew this was going to continue to be a big year for legislation and it just keeps on coming.

The federal mandate FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) we reported on a few months ago was just the shallow end of the pool. Get your life vest- this isn’t a kiddie pool folks, the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act” is white water rapids for the small business community.  Carefully navigating these treacherous waters to keep your business afloat is going to be crucial.

Without further adieu, lets dive in shall we?

On July 14, 2020 Colorado Govenor, Jared Polis signed the ,“Healthy Families and Workplaces Act” into law.  In the state of Colorado, only 60% of employees have paid time off through their employer. While this bill’s good intentions are to further support individuals that don’t currently have access to paid sick time which prevents them from staying home when they should (and possibly infecting others), and to create a healthier work environment and community, it is going to be painful (or in some cases fatal) for small businesses to comply.

Luckily, you have some great resources available to you to numb the pain. We will talk about this down below.

Here is the bill in bite-sized pieces:

  • Senate Bill 205 for the state of Colorado has been signed into law by Gov. Polis and mandates ALL employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees
  • Law will go into effect January 1st, 2021
  • For employers with LESS THAN 16 employees, there will be a 1 year grace period and will go into effect January 1st, 2022
  • As of DECEMBER 31ST 2020 moving forward, employers must provide paid sick leave for employees to take for reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic as detailed in the 2020 “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act” and the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”
  • Employers are to provide 48 hours of paid sick leave, which is six 8-hour days off
  • They immediately begin accruing 1 hour paid per 30 hours worked when employment begins
  • For 40 hour work weeks, employees will earn the 48 hours paid leave in 36 weeks
  • Employees can immediately use paid leave as it’s accrued
  • This applies to full time AND part-time employees
  • Paid leave hours accrued CAN roll over to subsequent years
  • We need additional clarification if the 48 hours of paid leave is capped or continues to accrue
  • Employees are eligible for the paid leave for the following reasons:
  • Illness due to current or future pandemic or public health emergencies (may require additional paid sick leave)
  • Caring for a family member due to illness or pandemic or public health emergencies (may require additional paid sick leave)
  • Mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
  • Victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or harassment or stalking
  • Child care due to school closure

Administrative Burden for small businesses:

  • Written notice must be provided to each employee, detailing their rights under this law
  • Posters created by the State of Colorado must be posted in a visible common area
  • Detailed records per employee for a two-year period documentation hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, paid sick leave used
  • Must provide access if/when requested by the state for compliance and audit purposes
  • Documentation for paid sick leave must be maintained in a separate file from other personnel information, must be treated as medical records, not to be disclosed except to an affected employee or with the express permission of the affected employee

These requirements are in addition to the documentation needed for Covid-19-related sick leave and SBA, PPP, or EIDL Loan tracking. 

**Details relating to domestic violence, sexual abuse or assault or harassment/stalking; or an employees or family members health information can NOT be required by the employer as a condition of paid sick leave


If employers violate this act, they are liable for back pay and “any other relief” and likely some fines or penalties. 

Take a breath. There are some silver linings to this. For instance, for small businesses under 16 employees, you have an extra year to PLAN. Don’t push it off last minute because it will be here before you know it…but it gives you more than 6 months to recover and create a financial strategy with your CPA and HR advisors. 

Be sure to follow our companion company HR Branches Facebook as they went live to discuss these legislative changes with Christina Gilbertson of Gilbertson Law Office.

Below are your “rafting guides” to help you navigate the upcoming rapids:

BRW Tax & Accounting

HR Branches

Gilbertson Law Office

Pikes Peak SBDC

SCORE Mentors
(719) 377-3107

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