Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act Regulatory Update

On November 10, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) adopted Wage Protection Rules to provide guidance on administration of the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA).  The Act requires virtually all Colorado employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers beginning January 1, 2021.

  • For the first year (2021) following implementation, the HFWA applies to employers with 16 or more workers. The guidance published in the Wage Protection Rules clarifies that any employer with 16 or more employees anywhere within the United States is subject to the law regardless of the number of employees working in Colorado. In other words, an employer with at least one Colorado employee who also employs 15 or more employees elsewhere is subject to the law beginning in 2021.
  • Beginning in 2022, an employer with one or more employees is required to comply with the paid sick leave requirement.

Under the HFWA, employers with employees working in the state of Colorado are required to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave (at the employee’s base hourly rate of pay) for each 30 hours of service, up to 48 hours per year, to the employees working in Colorado. The HFWA provides that paid sick leave may be used when the employee is absent from work due to his or her own physical or mental illness or that of a family member,  to seek a diagnosis, care or treatment as well as obtaining preventive medical care. Leave must also be provided for medical treatment, to obtain assistance from a victim’s services organization, counseling, legal services or relocation when the employee or the employee’s family member is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or harassment. Accrued paid sick leave may also be used to care for children when schools are closed due to a public health emergency (as declared by a public official). Employers whose existing paid leave policies provide sufficient paid leave to meet the annual accrual and permitted uses requirements are not required to provide additional paid leave.

The Act also requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of enhanced paid sick leave benefits to workers during a time of public health emergency. The enhanced paid sick leave requirements were implemented in July, 2020 and impact all employers with workers in the state, regardless of size. The November guidance provided by the CDLE clarifies that although the HFWA allows employees to take a full 80 hours for public health emergency reasons, and permits employers to count an employee’s unused paid sick leave accrual toward the requirement, only the Emergency Paid Leave supplement may be used. For example, if an employee with 40 hours of paid sick leave accrual misses work due to a COVID-19 exposure, she would only be entitled to 40 hours of Emergency Paid Leave.

Employers who are subject to the new statute should consult with their labor and employment attorney who can advise them on how to comply with the new statute. If you have questions, please reach out to your Hays Companies service team.


This document is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal or tax advice or legal or tax opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Readers are urged to consult their legal counsel and tax advisor concerning any legal or tax questions that may arise.


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