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Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill amendment on June 2, 2023, expanding the covered reasons for employees to take paid sick leave under Colorado’s Healthy Families & Workplaces Act (“HFWA”), including for bereavement-related absences and absences related to certain closures or evacuations due to inclement weather, loss of power, heating, water, or unexpected events. These additional covered reasons will become effective on August 7, 2023.
Further, the Colorado COVID public health emergency (CO COVID PHE) leave requirement ended on June 8, 2023.
Read on for more information.
Covered Reasons: Colorado’s HFWA, first effective on January 1, 2021, requires employers of any size or industry with employees working in Colorado to provide paid sick leave to employees for the following covered reasons:
Additional Covered Reasons to take HFWA time, effective August 7, 2023:
Accrual & Frontloading: Employees accrue HFWA at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours in a calendar year, unless the employer selects a higher limit. Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per week unless their regular workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case HFWA accrues based on their normal workweek.
Employees begin accruing HFWA time upon their date of hire and may use their HFWA time as soon as it is accrued. Employers may advance HFWA time to an employee before being accrued.
HFWA time may be taken in one-hour increments unless an employer’s policies permit leave to be taken in smaller increments.
Employers may choose to frontload 48 hours of HFWA time to employees at the beginning of the year as an alternative to HFWA accrual.
Rate of Pay & Carry-over: A covered employer must pay the regular rate of pay (excluding overtime, bonuses, or holiday pay) to employees using HFWA, but not less than the applicable minimum wage.
Employers may permit employees to carry over accrued, unused HFWA time into the following year up to a maximum of 48 hours, unless an employer agrees to a higher amount.
Employee Documentation: Employers may require an employee to provide reasonable documentation for absences of four or more consecutive days.
All HFWA-related documentation received by an employer must be kept confidential and only disclosed with the employee’s permission. All health and safety information related to an employee’s use of HFWA time must be kept confidential and separate from employment/personnel files.
Termination of Employment & Rehires: Employers are not required to pay out accrued, unused HFWA time to employees upon termination of employment.
If a terminated employee is rehired within six months by the same employer, then previously accrued, unused HFWA time must be reinstated and available for use at the time of rehire.
Existing Leave Policies: Employers with existing paid leave policies or collective bargaining agreements that meet or exceed HFWA requirements under the same terms and conditions are not required to provide additional paid time off.
Other Employer Requirements:
Colorado’s COVID PHE leave requirement ended on June 8, 2023, four weeks after the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and National Emergency ended (on May 11, 2023). Click here for a Risk Strategies article detailing the federal COVID emergency declarations wind down guidance.
The CO COVID PHE required all Colorado employers, regardless of size and industry, to provide employees with two weeks of paid leave (80 hours if full-time, less if part-time) for COVID-related needs at the same rate of pay the employee earned during time worked. Employees were eligible for one bank of 80 hours of CO COVID PHE leave.
CO COVID PHE leave was required to be provided in addition to any HFWA time that an employee in Colorado was entitled to.
The need for CO COVID PHE leave included the following:
Colorado Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)
Although the CO COVID PHE leave requirement ended on June 8, 2023, Colorado employers will still be required to provide an additional two weeks (80 hours if full-time, less if part-time) of paid leave for any declared public health emergency (PHEL) in the future.
As the August 7, 2023 effective date for these additional HFWA covered reasons approaches, employers with employees working in Colorado are advised to:
As the paid leave landscape around the country continues to rapidly change and evolve, Risk Strategies is committed to informing employers with the latest developments.
Contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Initially, HFWA applied only to employers with 16 or more employees. As of January 1, 2022, HFWA applies to all employers with Colorado employees, regardless of number of employees.
 Certain railroad employees are exempt from HFWA.
 A family member is defined under HFWA broadly to include:
 This model workplace poster is required to also be provided in the first language spoken by at least 5% of the employer's workforce.