Paid Sick Leave Bill Introduced in Colorado Legislature

May 26, 2020

On May 26, 2020, Senate Bill 20-205, the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act,” was introduced in the Colorado Senate. This bill would require employers to provide paid sick leave, at the employee’s usual salary or wage rate and benefits, for the following reasons:

  • An employee’s own health condition;
  • A health condition of a family member;
  • As a result of domestic violence, sexual assault or harassment, the employee or a family member needs medical attention, needs to relocate his or her home, or needs legal services;
  • Due to a public health emergency, the employee’s place of business has closed or the employee needs to care for a child due to closure of a school or place of child care.

Employees would accrue one hour of sick leave per 30 hours of work, provided that employers would not be required to give an employee with more than 48 hours of leave per year.  Employees would be entitled to carry over unused sick leave to the next year, but employers may cap sick leave at 48 hours per year.

Leave may be taken in hourly increments or increments as small as the employer’s payroll system allows, whichever is smaller. An employee taking sick leave would be required to provide as much notice as practicable and, if possible, an estimate of the duration of leave, but not written notice. The employee does not need to provide documentation of the need for leave.  Employers are not required to pay employees for accrued but unused sick leave upon termination of employment. 

In addition, during a public health emergency, employers would be required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave per year for full time employees. For part-time employees, they would be required to provide up to the amount of time the part-time employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time the part-time employee actually works on average in a 14-day period. An employee must use other paid sick leave provided by the employer before using this leave. The reasons for paid sick leave during a public health emergency are similar to the reasons for leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). 

Discrimination and retaliation for taking sick leave, reporting violations, or participating in investigations would be prohibited. There would be a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer were to take adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in a protected activity, such as complaining about a violation or participating in an investigation. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment would have enforcement authority. In addition, an employee aggrieved by a violation of the Act could file a civil action for back pay and other relief.

If passed, the Act would take effect January 1, 2021.  It has been assigned to the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee. More information can be found at https://leg.colorado.gov/.