Understanding Sick Leave Requirements in Colorado

Molly PereiraFeatured News

As the year draws to a close, Colorado dental offices should prepare to comply with the requirement that employers offer sick leave to their employees starting next year.

Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

In 2020, Colorado passed SB20-205, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). This required employers with 16+ employees to provide paid sick leave beginning 1/1/21 and ALL Colorado employers (regardless of employee count) to provide paid sick leave beginning 1/1/22.

Earning Sick Leave:
Beginning on the dates identified above, all employees (both full-time and part-time) accrue paid sick leave beginning on the first day of employment at a minimum rate of one hour of leave per 30 hours worked (up to 48 hours per year). Employers can choose to provide greater but not lesser benefits. Employees can use sick leave as soon as it is accrued and roll over up to 48 hours of sick leave from one year to the next.

Using Sick Leave:
An employee may use paid sick leave in hourly increments. The employee must make a good faith effort to provide notice of any paid sick leave. Employees are not required to find someone to cover their absence from work. Employers may request documentation for absences longer than four consecutive days. 

Paid sick leave may be used for: 

  • personal physical or mental illness/injury, doctors’ visits
  • care for a sick family member
  • care related to domestic abuse, sexual assault or harassment
  • closure of businesses/childcare/schools due to a public health emergency*

Paying Out Sick Leave: Employees must be paid at their normal wage rate for sick leave hours. Employees are not entitled to compensation for unused sick leave when employment is terminated, but accrued leave must be credited to the employee if rehired within 6 months.

*Paid Sick Leave During a Public Health Emergency

Effective 1/1/21, expanded sick leave benefits must be provided by all employers in the state during and four weeks beyond a declared public health emergency, like COVID-19.

80 hours of leave must be provided for employees who normally work 40 or more hours per week. For employees who work less than 40 hours a week, employers must provide additional paid sick leave in the amount of time the employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time the employee actually works on average in a 14-day period. 

These emergency sick leave hours are banked at the beginning of the calendar year and not accrued, and no documentation can be required for their use. Banked hours can be used immediately upon declaration of the PHE. PHE sick leave may be used exclusively for conditions related to the declared PHE (COVID-19 in the current instance) for purposes such as employee isolation or quarantine, care of a family member in isolation or quarantine, preventive care like vaccinations, a health condition which prevents the employee from working due to risk or susceptibility to illness or exposure for others or closure of a child’s place of care/school.

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment INFO Bulletin #6B clarifies that this emergency leave expansion requirement applies to all employers, regardless of size and whether the base sick leave requirements are currently in effect.

Notices to employees of these sick leave pay policies must be provided in both writing and display of a CDLE poster (English) (CDLE posters in other languages can be found here).

Future Paid Leave Notice

Colorado Proposition 118, approved by Colorado voters in in 2020 (57%-42%), will begin in January 2024 and potentially intersect some provisions of the benefits outlined above. It will provide up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave per year (for longer running illness or conditions than those covered by the sick leave policy). The pay is at reduced rate, based on a formula related to wages that would not exceed $1,100 per week.

The CDA will provide additional information as more is available. The Colorado Blue Book description provides more detail, specifically the chart on page 4.