Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the Colorado Healthy Families & Workplaces Act (HFWA) requires employers with 16 or more employees to offer Paid Sick Leave (PSL).

The Act requires Colorado employers to provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year, beginning on an employee’s first day of employment.

Example: An employee working 150 hours/month (35 hours/week) gains just over 1 hour leave every week, which totals 5 hours per month and reaches the max. 48 hours after approx. 9 ½ months. But, an employee working 20 hours/week gains 1 hour of leave every 1 ½ weeks —reaching 32 hours by the end of the year (assuming 48 workweeks, by excluding holidays and unpaid time off).

Overtime-exempt employees gain leave as if they work 40 hours per week, even if they work more. Non-exempt employees gain paid leave for each hour worked, overtime or not.

Leave must be paid at the same hourly rate or salary and with the same benefits the employee normally earns during hours worked.

The leave must be paid at the employee’s regular hourly or salaried rate, or minimum wage, whichever is greater.

If your policies already comply with HFWA, or offer more sick leave or PTO than what’s required, great! Just be certain your policy meets the availability and use requirements, which we’ll discuss in more detail next.

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

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). PHE applies to all Colorado employers, regardless of size.

Employer Policies

As you formulate your organization’s policies for HFWA, please keep the following things 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. 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.

More resources

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a self-help tool and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Laws and regulations change often, and decisions as to whether or how to use this information and/or what actions to take are solely those of the viewer. The providers of this information disclaim any and all responsibility and liability for its accuracy, completeness or fitness for your particular business purposes.

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