May 13, 2021
Colorado updates guidance on paid sick leave law for 2021 to include time off for COVID-19 vaccines and makes other changes
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDOLE) issued a press release reminding employers that under Health Families and Workplace Act (HFWA) that took effect on July 15, 2020, all Colorado employees have the right to paid leave for the time it takes to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and for any side effects that prevent them from working.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB 20-205 into law, which required employers of 16 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to all employees effective July 15, 2020. The requirement was delayed for employers of 15 or fewer employees ¾ these employers must provide paid sick leave effective January 1, 2022; however, all employers are required to provide the additional COVID-related supplemental leave as of January 1, 2021. (CDOL Interpretive Notice #6B and #6C.)
COVID-related supplemental leave effective January 1, 2021
In addition to the HFWA paid sick leave accrued by an employee, the law requires that employers provide their employees with an added amount of paid sick leave during a public health emergency (PHE).
This PHE supplement assures that the HFWA paid leave the employee accrued before the PHE provides paid time off in the following amounts:
PHE supplemental leave requirements
Effective January 1, 2021, Governor Polis declared a PHE related to COVID-19. Accordingly, all Colorado employers are required to provide the PHE supplement, which is distinct from any COVID-19-related leave that employers were required to provide in 2020.
Employees may use this PHE supplemental leave as of January 1, 2021 (if they were already performing work in 2021), or as of their date of hire, whichever comes later, until four weeks after the end of the PHE.
The PHE supplemental leave applies for employees who:
HFWA regular paid leave requirements
Employees 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 sick leave as it is accrued. (CDOL Interpretive Notice #6A.)
Employees may use regular HFWQ accrued paid sick leave for the following purposes:
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 preexisting 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 regular working hours, or at the state minimum wage, whichever is greater.Employees transferred to a separate division of the same employer or to a successor employer must be allowed to transfer their accrued sick leave to their new place of employment.
Employers are required to notify each employee in writing of their right to paid sick leave and to display a poster in the workplace that will be developed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The Department will publish 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 such records available to the Department. The Department must adopt rules to administer the paid sick leave law.
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