HFWA Paid Leave Uses
There are certain criteria for how HFWA time is used or approved for use. If you are already satisfying the accrual of time portion of the Act, also be certain that your current policy allows for the following uses of the time:
- Having a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents employee from working;
- Needing to get preventative medical care, or to get a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
- Needing to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or who needs the type of care listed in #2;
- The employee or a family member having been a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment, and needing leave for related medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, victim services (including legal services), or relocation; or
- Due to a public health emergency, a public official having closed either the employee’s place of business, or the school or place of care of the employee’s child, requiring the employee needing to be absent from work to care for the child.
All HFWA leave must be paid at the same hourly rate or salary, and with the same benefits the employee normally earns during hours worked. The rate must be at least the applicable minimum wage, but need not include overtime, bonuses, or holiday pay.
Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)
During a public health emergency, up to 80 hours must be provided (or, for an employee working under 40 hours per week, two weeks of their regular hours). PHEL applies to all Colorado employers, regardless of size.
In 2021, PHEL went into effect per Federal and State COVID-19 public health emergency orders. PHEL remains available until four weeks following the end of the public health emergency*.
*Unless extended again, which is likely, the Federal public health emergency will end January 16, 2022, or when the US Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services declares that a public health emergency no longer exists.
As you formulate your organization’s policies for HFWA, please keep the following in mind:
- Documentation can be required only if leave is “four or more consecutive workdays”
- Only reasonable documentation can be required, not more than needed to show a valid reason for leave
- You cannot require “details” about the employee’s (or their family’s) HFWA-related health or safety information; any such information you receive must be kept confidential and stored in a separate file
- Documentation “is not required to take paid sick leave,” but it can be required as soon as the employee reasonably can provide it (reasonable documentation can be required)
- Unused HFWA leave rolls over year-to-year, but does not require more than 48 hours leave in a year
HFWA Paid Leave Payout
Employers are not required to pay out an employee’s unused sick leave when an employee separates from employment. However, if your PTO policy tracks paid vacation and sick pay together, you may have to pay out unused PSL. If an employee is rehired within six months, they are entitled to have their previously accrued sick leave hours reinstated unless it was paid out.