On July 8, 2021, Colorado ended the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency. However, Colorado employers must continue to provide COVID-19 sick pay while the Federal public health order remains active.
Per Colorado’s Healthy Families & Workplaces Act (HFWA), the requirement for all employers to provide COVID-related sick pay continues for 4 weeks following the end of a declared emergency. The Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) will post an update on its HFWA website when the current PHE is ending and when the 4-week end period will begin.
What is Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)?
Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) was implemented in 2021 under the Colorado Families & Workplaces Act (HFWA). PHEL requires Colorado employers – regardless of size – to provide paid leave for qualifying absences during a declared public health emergency. This sick pay mandate expires 4 weeks following the end of the emergency public health order.
Colorado’s public health emergency ended July 8, 2021. Why must employers still provide COVID-19 sick pay?
This is where things get confusing. Colorado’s state law requires PHEL during a local, state, or federal public health emergency. Since we are still under a federal public health order, Colorado employers must continue paying PHEL.
As our friend and employment law attorney Michael Santo further explained:
“Under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, on the date a public health emergency is declared, all employers must make 80 hours of paid sick leave available to employees for purposes related to the public health emergency. This mandate extends through the duration of the public health emergency declaration, plus an additional four weeks after the public health emergency has been suspended or ended . . . [T]he statute defines ‘Public Health Emergency’ as a declaration by a ‘state, federal, or local health agency.’
So, while it is true that Governor Polis, as of July 8th, 2021, ended the health emergency declaration, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) has an active ‘Determination That a Public Health Emergency Exists’ [that it renewed on July 19th] . . . [E]mployers may be obligated to continue providing leave under PHEL for some time.
. . . Governor Polis’ declaration is only