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 (Includes Similar Respiratory Illnesses from November 11, 2022 - January 8, 2023)

Update - January 8, 2023 - Public Health Emergency Leave is Still in Effect — Reduced to COVID Only From January 8, 2023. 

In addition to “accrued paid sick leave” (addressed below), all Colorado employers, regardless of size or industry, still must provide employees with public health emergency (“PHE”) leave (two weeks — 80 hours, or less for part-time employees) under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). Colorado’s 80-hour PHE leave is ongoing: It continues as long as a federal or state PHE is declared (C.R.S. § 8-13.3-402(9)) — and while state public health orders have been scaled back, currently federal and Colorado PHEs both remain declared.

As of January 8, 2023, the conditions covered by Colorado’s latest PHE declaration are COVID-related only. From November 11, 2022 until January 8, 2023, the conditions covered by Colorado's PHE declaration at the time include health needs related to not just COVID, but also flu, respiratory syncytial virus (“RSV”), and similar respiratory illnesses. Those with flu or RSV symptoms already were likely covered as having COVID symptoms — so a key impact of this expansion may be that coverage remains even if testing confirms someone has flu or RSV rather than COVID. The expansion beyond COVID doesn’t give employees an extra 80 hours for those conditions, it just means they can use their 80 hours for a broader range of conditions.

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

  • Symptoms of COVID, such as fever or chills, cough, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose
  • Quarantining or isolating due to exposure
  • Testing for COVID
  • Vaccination and its side effects
  • Inability to work due to health conditions that may increase susceptibility or risk of COVID
  • Needs to care for family (illness, school closure, etc.)

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

This 80-hour PHE leave will continue until four weeks after all applicable PHE declarations end or are suspended. Based on the current emergency declarations, PHE emergency leave will continue at least into May 2023, but will continue longer if either the federal or the state PHE declaration is renewed further into 2023.

Are Employers Required to Provide PHE Leave Related to Monkeypox?

Update - August 9, 2022: No. Colorado law provides supplemental paid sick leave when a federal public health emergency is declared for a “highly fatal infectious agent.” Currently, the evidence does not appear to show the current strain of monkeypox to be “highly fatal.” Accordingly, the Monkeypox public health emergency declared by the federal Department of Health and Human Services on August 4, 2022 is not the type that triggers supplemental paid sick leave under Colorado law. However, accrued paid sick leave for personal or family health needs related to Monkeypox can be taken if the leave is for one or more of the needs listed in the Accrued Paid Sick Leave section below. 

If a federal, state, or local emergency is declared that requires a new two-week PHE leave supplement for Monkeypox-related reasons, this webpage will be updated as soon as possible.  For more information on what constitutes a public health emergency under HFWA, see C.R.S. § 8-13.3-402(9) (link in “References” section below).

Accrued Paid Sick Leave

Employers are also 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 Rules 3.5.4 and 3.5.8).

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



Business and COVID: Where do we go from here? (3/10/22)

CDLE Webinar: DLSS Paid Sick Leave (2/25/21) 

Contact Us

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