Our friend Michael Santo, an employment law attorney, wrote the following summary of Colorado’s Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative, which allows up to 12 weeks of paid leave for covered employees.

On November 3, 2020, Colorado voters passed Proposition 118, the Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative (PMFL). In short, Proposition 118 allows covered employees to use 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The leave will be funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees in a 50/50 split. An additional four weeks of leave are allowed for pregnancy or childbirth complications. The first premiums will be paid beginning on January 1, 2023, and benefits will begin to be available on January 1, 2024. Under Proposition 118, employers cannot take disciplinary or retaliatory actions against covered employees for requesting or using paid leave.

Reasons for an employee covered by PMFL to take leave

  • caring for their own serious health condition;
  • caring for a new child during the first year after the birth or adoption or for foster care of a new child;
  • caring for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • when a family member is on active duty military service or is called for active-duty military service; and
  • when the individual or the individual’s family member is a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

An additional four weeks of leave are allowed for pregnancy or childbirth complications. Individuals who paid premiums will receive 90% of their average weekly wage (AWW) for the portion of wages that are less than or equal to 50% of the state average weekly wage (SAWW) and 50% of the portion of their wages that exceed 50% of the SAWW. The maximum benefit is capped at $1,100 per week for 2024. The SAWW was estimated to be $1,340 for 2024. The maximum weekly benefit in 2025 is estimated to be $1,253 per week (90% of the SAWW, which is estimated to be $1,392 per week).

The following table shows an example of paid family and medical leave benefits:

Weekly wage Weekly benefit Maximum annual benefit Percent of weekly wage
$500 $450 $5,400 90%
$1,000 $768 $9,216 77%
$1,500 $1,018 $12,216 68%
$2,000 $1,100 $13,200 55%
$3,000 $1,100 $13,200 37%

Individuals are eligible to receive the benefits after they have earned $2,500 in wages that were subject to the paid family and medical leave (PFML) premiums and have been employed by the employer for at least 180 days. For 2023, the maximum annual premium was estimated to be $1,455 since premiums can only be assessed on wages up to $161,700 per person.

For the first two years of the program (2023 and 2024), the premiums are set to be 0.9% of the employee’s wage (0.45% paid by the employer and 0.45% paid by the employee). Employers can choose to pay a larger percentage of the cost up to 100%.

Premiums will be adjusted for 2025 so that the total amount of premium contributions to the program equals 135% of the previous year’s claims and 100% of the administration costs. The premium may be set up to a cap of 1.2% of each employee’s wages.

The initiative exempts businesses with less than 10 employees from paying the premium. Sole proprietors can opt into the program. Premiums under the program will begin on January 1, 2023.

Job protections

Under Proposition 118, employers cannot take disciplinary or retaliatory actions against employees for requesting or using paid leave. Job protections become available to employees who work for the employer for at least 180 days. Employees who take leave under Proposition 118 are entitled to return to the same position or a position with the same pay, benefits, and seniority or status. Employees cannot lose their health benefits during their leave and are still be required to pay their health insurance premiums while on leave.

Overview of Colorado Paid Medical and Family Leave (Prop 118) - Effective 2023 2
Michael Santo, Contributor
Employment Law Attorney and Partner with Bechtel, Santo & Severn
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