Yesterday, July 14, 2020, Governor Polis Signed into law the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act.  The Act goes into effect on January 1, 2021. The Act provides employees in Colorado with basic paid sick leave and additional paid sick leave during a public health emergency. Generally, the Act allows employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours total.  The Act sets a minimum standard with which all employers will need to comply.

The Act initially applies to employers with 16 or more employees, with certain limitations and exceptions.  Beginning January 1, 2022, the Act applies to all employers in the state.

The Act expands the applicability of the Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The EPSLA requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work or telework where the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;
  3. is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in, or who has been advised as described in 2;
  5. is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID–19 related reasons; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

The Act now requires that all employers in the State of Colorado comply with the sick pay provisions provided for by the EPLSA. 

The “Colorado EPSLA” goes into effect immediately and will remain in place until December 31, 2020.

In short, large employers (501 + employees) for whom the EPLSA did not apply now must comply with he EPSLA, albeit without the tax relief afforded by the federal law. Also, employers who could seek an exemption from the EPLSA must now comply with the federal law.

Given the passage of the Act, we recommend that you immediately post the emergency sick pay poster, available here. Be sure to notify your Colorado employees that they are now entitled to paid leave under the EPSLA.

Author: DJ Goldfarb & Kathleen Alt

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