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June 19, 2020

Colorado bill to require employers provide paid sick leave for reasons other than COVID-19

The Colorado state legislature passed SB 20-205 that, if enacted, will require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees effective January 1, 2021. ?Colorado Governor Polis took the lead on Colorado paid sick leave by issuing temporary, emergency paid sick time during the COVID-19 pandemic through his Colorado Health Emergency Leave Pay (HELP).

Note that the most recent version of the bill as posted to the state legislative website reflects that a House amendment limited the paid leave requirement to employers with more than 15 employees. It is unknown at this time whether this amendment made it through to the final conference committee approved bill as passed on June 15, 2020, although a news source is reporting that the requirement to provide paid sick leave is delayed for employees of 15 or less employees until 2022. (, 6-17-2020.)

The bill expands the current requirement that certain employers provide paid sick leave to employees ill due to COVID-19. The bill also provides that as of the effective date of the bill through December 31, 2020, employers are required to provide each of their employees paid sick leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the amounts and for the purposes specified in the federal "Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act" in the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act." (EY Payroll Newsflashes Vol. 21, #082, 3-20-2020 and #218, 5-7-2020.)

Paid sick leave law provisions?

Effective January 1, 2021, employees will begin to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a yearly maximum of 48 hours. Employees will immediately be able to begin using their accrued sick leave as it is accrued. Unused paid sick leave will be carryover to subsequent calendar years.

Employees may use accrued paid sick leave to be absent from work for the following reasons:

  • The employee has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care.
  • The employee needs to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care.
  • The employee or family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment and needs to be absent from work for purposes related to such crime.
  • A public official has ordered the closure of the school or place of care of the employee's child or of the employee's place of business due to a public health emergency, necessitating the employee's absence from work.

Employers may choose to "front load" sick leave, providing employees with the total amount of required sick leave at the beginning of the year rather than waiting for the employee to accrue the hours.?

An employee's unused sick leave must be carried over to the next year; however, an employer may limit the use of sick leave to 48 hours per calendar year.

Employers are not required to pay employees for unused sick leave upon termination, resignation, retirement or other separation from employment.?However, if a former employee is rehired by the same employer within six months of the separation, the employer must reinstate any paid sick leave that the employee had accrued but not used prior to the separation.

Employers with a pre-existing sick leave policy are not required to provide any additional sick leave if the employer's plan meets or exceeds the requirements under the new law.

Paid sick leave must be paid at the same rate of pay the employee is paid for working hours or at the state minimum wage, whichever is greater.

Employers are required to notify each employee in writing of their right to paid sick leave by displaying a poster in the workplace that will be developed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The Department will develop a model notice to satisfy the requirement of providing written notice to each employee.

For a two-year period, employers must retain records documenting, by employee, the hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, and paid sick leave used and make these records available to the Department. The Department must adopt rules to administer the paid sick leave law.

In addition to the paid sick leave accrued by an employee, the bill requires an employer to provide its employees an additional amount of paid sick leave during a public health emergency in an amount based on the number of hours the employee works.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Workforce Tax Services - Employment Tax Advisory Services
   • Kenneth Hausser (
   • Debera Salam (
   • Kristie Lowery (
   • Peter Berard (


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