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: public health emergency (PHE) leave and accrued leave. The following points apply to both PHE and accrued leave.

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

Public Health Emergency (PHE) Leave (Still in Effect)

Employers must provide employees with up to two weeks of paid leave (80 hours if full-time, less if part-time) for COVID-related needs. The current 80-hour requirement took effect on January 1, 2021, and remains in effect.

Employees may still have PHE hours available to use if they didn’t use them in 2021, however employees don’t get a new 80 hours each time they have a COVID-related need, and don’t get a new 80 hours of PHE leave in 2022, except for newly hired full-time employees. Employees may use PHE leave until four weeks after a PHE ends.

PHE leave is usable for a range of COVID-related needs, not just for confirmed cases. COVID-related needs include:

  • Illness with COVID symptoms
  • Quarantining or isolating due to COVID exposure
  • COVID testing
  • Vaccination and side effects
  • Inability to work due to health conditions that may increase susceptibility or risk of COVID
  • COVID-related needs of family (illness, school closure, etc.). 

Employers cannot require documentation from employees to show that leave is for COVID-related needs. 


The emergency leave requirement remains ongoing, as long as a federal or a state “emergency” remains. As of the New Year (2022), both federal and state emergency declarations remain in effect. The Division will update this webpage immediately when the current PHE ends and the four week end period begins.

Accrued Leave

Employers are required to provide one hour of paid leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. This requirement took effect January 1, 2021, and is permanently in effect, not just during the COVID emergency.

Accrued leave is usable for a wide range of health and safety needs, not just COVID-related: Needs include:

  • Any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents work; 
  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of such conditions;
  • Preventive care (including vaccination);
  • Needs due to suffering domestic violence, sexual abuse, or criminal harassment; or caring for family with such conditions or needs.

Starting January 1, 2022, small and large employers alike have the same accrued leave responsibilities. In 2021, employers with 15 or fewer employees had to provide emergency leave, but were exempt from accrued leave until the end of 2021. 

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.

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 Rule 3.5.4).

For more detailed information please see the “references” below.

References

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Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics | 303-318-8441 | Contact Us