Paid Sick Leave under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA)

The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) requires Colorado employers to provide two types of paid sick leave to their employees: accrued leave and public health emergency (PHE) leave (not currently in effect). The following points apply to both PHE and accrued leave.

  • Paid sick leave must be paid for time off work, and at the same pay rate the employee earns during time worked. 
  • Paid sick leave can’t be counted against employees as absences that may lead to firing or other negative action.

Accrued Paid Sick Leave

An employer must provide 1 hour of accrued, paid leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Accrued paid sick leave can be used for a wide range of health and safety needs:

  • Inability to work due to a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
  • Obtaining preventive medical care (including vaccination), or medical diagnosis/care/treatment.
  • Needs due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment including medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, legal or other victim services, or relocation.
  • Care for a family member who needs the sort of care listed above.
  • During a PHE, a public official closed the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of the employee’s child.
  • Effective Aug. 7, 2023: Bereavement, or financial/legal needs after a death of a family member; or
  • Effective Aug. 7, 2023: Due to inclement weather, power/heat/water loss, or other unexpected event, the employee must 
    1. evacuate their residence, or
    2. care for a family member whose school or place of care was closed.

Since January 1, 2022, all employers in the state, regardless of size or industry, are fully covered by HFWA.

HFWA covers all employees (part-time, seasonal, temporary, etc.), excluding only federal government employees and some railroad employees.

Employers can require documentation for accrued paid sick leave (not for COVID-related public health emergency (PHE) leave), but only for absences of four or more consecutive days — and employees can provide the documentation after the leave ends.

COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) Leave Requirement Ended June 8, 2023

Update: COVID-19 PHE Leave Was in Effect Until June 8, 2023, four weeks after COVID-19 Public Health Emergencies ended.

On May 11, 2023, the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 PHE expired, following the expiration of Colorado’s COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Order on April 27, 2023.  But HFWA PHE leave continued until four weeks after all applicable PHE declarations ended or were suspended.  With all applicable PHEs ending as of May 11, 2023, Colorado employees with remaining COVID-related PHE leave were still able to take PHE leave through June 8, 2023

For additional information regarding HWFA PHE leave, please see INFOs #6B & 6C.

PTO Policies and CBAs

Paid leave in a PTO policy, or a Collective Bargaining Agreement, can satisfy HFWA, if it covers all the same conditions or needs, at the same pay rate, and with no tougher requirements (documentation, notice, etc.) than HFWA (see Colorado Wage Protection Rules, specifically Rules 3.5.4 and 3.5.8).

For more detailed information please see the “References” section below.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI)

The paid FAMLI leave program is not the same as HFWA paid sick leave. The two programs have different requirements, do not provide for the same types of leave, and are administered by two separate Divisions within CDLE. More information on FAMLI can be found at famli.colorado.gov.


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