For Immediate Release | January 6, 2022
(DENVER) - The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is reminding workers and employers about paid sick leave requirements under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). As of January 1, 2022, no employers — public or private, and any size or industry — are exempt (other than the federal government), and no employees are exempt either (other than some railroad employees). HFWA provides two types of leave: public health emergency leave and accrued leave. For both emergency and accrued leave:
- It must be paid for time on leave, and at the same pay rate the employee earns during time worked.
- It can’t be counted against employees as absences that may lead to firing or other negative action.
- No “waiver” is allowed; employers and employees can’t choose, for example, to have higher pay for time worked instead of the paid sick leave that HFWA requires.
- Employers can require documentation for accrued paid sick leave (not for COVID-related public health emergency leave), but only for absences of four or more consecutive days — and employees can provide the documentation after the leave ends.
Public health emergency leave
WHAT: Two weeks of paid leave (80 hours if full-time, less if part-time) for COVID-related needs. This requirement took effect July 14, 2020, and remains in effect.
Emergency 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 can’t 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, both federal and state emergency declarations remain in effect* Employees still have however many of their 80 hours they didn’t use in 2021. They don’t get a new 80 hours each time they have a COVID-related need, and don’t have a new 80 hours in 2022, except that newly hired employees do get a new 80 hours.
WHAT: 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.
New in 2022
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. 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.
For more information on HFWA, see INFO #6B, our main published HFWA guidance — available along with a great deal of other guidance on Colorado labor laws at: https://cdle.colorado.gov/infos.