September 29, 2020

Colorado Mandates Employee Paid Sick Leave for All

We knew this was going to continue to be a big year for legislation and it just keeps on coming.

The federal mandate FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) enacted earlier this year was just the shallow end of the pool. Get your life vest- this isn’t a kiddie pool folks, the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act” (1) is white water rapids for the small business community.  Carefully navigating these treacherous waters to keep your business afloat is going to be crucial.

On July 14, 2020, Colorado Governor, Jared Polis signed the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act”(1)  into law.  In the state of Colorado, only 60% of employees have paid time off through their employer. While this bill’s good intentions are to further support individuals that don’t currently have access to paid sick time which prevents them from staying home when they should (and possibly infecting others) and to create a healthier work environment and community, it is could prove difficult for small businesses to comply.

Here is the bill in bite-sized pieces:

  • Senate Bill 205 for the state of Colorado has been signed into law by Gov. Polis and mandates ALL employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees
  • Law will go into effect on January 1st, 2021
  • For employers with LESS THAN 16 employees, there will be a 1-year grace period and will go into effect on January 1st, 2022
  • Employers are to provide 48 hours of paid sick leave, which is six 8-hour days off
  • Full-time and part-time will immediately begin accruing 1 hour paid per 30 hours worked when employment begins
  • Employees can immediately use paid sick leave as it’s accrued
  • Employees are eligible for the paid leave for the following reasons:
    • Illness due to current or future pandemic or public health emergencies (may require additional paid sick leave)
    • Caring for a family member due to illness or pandemic or public health emergencies (may require additional paid sick leave)
    • Mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
    • Victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or harassment or stalking
    • Childcare due to school closure
  • The administrative burden for small businesses:
    • A written notice must be provided to each employee, detailing their rights under this law
    • Posters created by the State of Colorado must be posted in a visible common area
    • Detailed records per employee for a two-year period documentation hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, paid sick leave used
    • Must provide access if/when requested by the state for compliance and audit purposes
    • Documentation for paid sick leave must be maintained in a separate file from other personnel information, must be treated as medical records, not to be disclosed except to an affected employee or with the express permission of the affected employee

If employers violate this act, they are liable for back pay and “any other relief” and likely some fines or penalties.

Take a breath. There are some silver linings to this. For instance, for small businesses under 16 employees, you have an extra year to PLAN. Don’t push it off last minute because it will be here before you know it. You have a few months to budget and create a financial strategy with your CPA and HR advisors.

Let HR Branches be your “rafting guide” to help you navigate this new legislation!


Courtesy of HR Branches