Colorado employers will be required to provide their employees with a specified amount of paid sick leave starting January, 1st 2021. This new law is in addition to the paid sick time already guaranteed to employees through the Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act in place until December 31, 2020 due to Covid19.
This new act requires employers with 16 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to their employees, accrued at one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours. Beginning January 1, 2022, the Act applies to all employers regardless of size.
What Employees Should Know:
- An employee begins accruing paid sick leave when their employment begins
- The employee may use paid sick leave as it is accrued
- The employee may carry forward and use in subsequent calendar years paid sick leave that is not used in the year in which it is accrued.
If an employer already has a more generous PTO, vacation, or sick leave policy (meaning providing at least 48 hours of sick leave), the employer does not need to provide additional leave. But the accrual must be as generous as that required in the Act and be available immediately. The act applies to part-time employees as well.
Additionally, while the Act refers to paid sick leave as “wages,” it specifically provides that unused paid sick leave need not be paid out at termination. Any unused paid sick days must be reinstituted if the employee is rehired within six months of termination. The paid sick leave also carries over to any successor employer.
Employees may use accrued paid sick leave to be absent from work for the following purposes:
- The employee has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
- The employee needs to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
- The employee or family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment and needs to be absent from work for purposes related to such crime; or
- A public official has ordered the closure of the school or place of care of the employee’s child or of the employee’s place of business due to a public health emergency, necessitating the employee’s absence from work.
Employers may require documentation from the employee if they take four or more consecutive paid sick days.
What Should Employers Do?
There are immediate steps Colorado employers must take to come into compliance, and some preparations to consider before the 2021 requirements take effect.
- Colorado employers with more than 500 employees who have not been subject to FFCRA will need to ensure compliance once signed through the end of the year. FFCRA’s Paid Sick Leave Provisions provide two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The law also requires two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
- The Act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who uses the employee’s paid sick leave or otherwise exercises the employee’s rights under the Act. Employees who believe their rights under the Act were violated may file a charge with the Division of Labor, and bring a civil action within two years if they exhaust all administrative remedies.
- The new law will also require employers to retain records documenting by employee the hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, and paid sick leave used. This is a critical requirement because you will need to make such records available to the Division of Labor upon request.
- Once 2021 arrives, employers must provide employees with a written notice of their rights. You should work with your counsel to develop a compliant form and train your managers on the proper use of the form. Before the new year, you should also plan to revise your policies and train your human resources staff and managers on the new requirements.
- You will also need to display a poster detailing employees’ rights under the Act. A sample poster is anticipated to be released by the Division of Labor before the end of 2020. Access to Colorado Department of Labor and Employment posters can be found HERE.
With the new year quickly approaching, it is vital as an employer that you take the necessary steps in order to comply with these new regulations. Now is the time to make a plan.
As always, our team is here as a resource to you. Contact us today.