Compliance Snapshot

  • Colorado employers not covered by the FFCRA must now provide Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave during 2020.
  • Employers must notify employees in writing of the right to take paid leave and display an informational poster.

On July 14, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (the “Act”) requiring all Colorado employers to provide additional COVID-19 related sick leave (“Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave”) for employees not covered by Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA only applies to companies with fewer than 500 employees and therefore, the Act seeks to “bridge the gap” by creating mandatory paid sick leave for all employees in the state, regardless of employer size, through December 2020. Large employers with Colorado employees who were not previously covered by the FFCRA paid sick leave provisions will now be required to provide the same paid sick leave, but without the federal tax benefit. For more information about FFCRA, please visit our blog post.  

The Act separately mandates that, effective January 1, 2021, Colorado employees must begin accruing at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours total (“Colorado Sick Leave”). Further, all employers in Colorado must begin providing this earned paid sick leave effective January 1, 2022. For more information about Colorado Sick Leave, please visit our blog post.

Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

From July 15 through December 31, 2020, the Act requires all employers in Colorado, regardless of size, to provide paid sick leave in the amount and for the purposes provided in the FFCRA to each employee who is not currently covered by it. This means that those Colorado employers with 500 or more employees, and those exempted employers with fewer than 50 employees, are required to provide sick leave consistent with the FFCRA.

The Act does not require employers to comply with the Emergency FMLA provisions of the FFCRA, which provides 12 weeks of pay to care for children whose school or place of care is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19-related reasons.

What are the Qualifying Reasons for Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave?

Under the Act, Colorado employers will need to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work or telework for the following reasons:

  • Employee is having COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • Employee is being ordered by a government agent (federal, state, or local), or advised by a health provider, to quarantine or isolate due to a risk of COVID-19;
  • Employee is taking care of someone else due to COVID-19 precautions – either someone ordered to quarantine or isolate, or a child whose school, place of care, or childcare is closed or unavailable.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (“CO DOL”) has clarified that if any employee already received paid leave in 2020 for any of the above COVID-19-related reasons, that amount provided counts toward the two weeks manded by the Act.

What is the Rate of Pay?

The amount an employer must pay an employee for Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave varies depending on the reason for the use of sick time. When an employee is quarantined or takes leave due to his or her own inability to work, the employer must provide paid sick time at the higher of the employee’s average regular rate, the federal minimum wage, or the local minimum wage. The CO DOL has clarified that this amount does not include overtime, bonuses or holiday pay. When an employee is absent from work to care for others or because of childcare obligations, employers must provide paid sick time at two-thirds of the employee’s average regular rate.

What are the Employer Notice Requirements?

The Act requires employers to both (1) notify employees in writing of the right to take paid leave and (2) display an informational poster “in a conspicuous and accessible” place in “each establishment” where employees work.

The CO DOL has clarified that requirement #1 (notice) can be satisfied by giving employees versions of the latest version of this Interpretive Notice and Formal Opinion #6A (“INFO #6A) or the poster (on paper or electronically). Requirement #2 (posting) is satisfied by posting the Division of Labor Standards and Statistic poster. It is recommended that employers check the CO DOL’s information page for the latest poster versions before providing notices and posters to employees.

Both requirements are waived during any time an employer’s business is closed due to a public health-related emergency. For employees working remotely, and for all employees of employers without a physical workspace, complying with requirement #1 (notice) is enough, and can be done electronically. Employers must provide notices and posters in “any language that is the first language spoken by at least five percent” of its workforce. Spanish versions of the poster and INFO #6A are available.

Additional Resources

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2020 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Lizet Ramirez – Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.