Healthy Families & Workplaces Act Signed in Colorado

Thoughtware Alert Aug 31, 2020
Pillars on a Government building

On July 14, 2020, Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill (SB) 20-205, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). This SB expands the sick leave passed with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in March 2020 for all Colorado employers. 

COVID-19 Sick Leave

Effective July 14, 2020 through December 31, 2020, each employer in the state, regardless of size, is required to provide paid sick leave under the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act in the FFCRA, Pub.L.116-127. Employers must provide paid leave to employees in any of the following COVID-19-related categories:

  1. Having COVID-19 symptoms or seeking a medical diagnosis
  2. Being ordered by a federal, state, or local government, or advised by a health provider, to quarantine or isolate due to risk of COVID-19
  3. Taking care of someone else due to an order described in category (2) or caring for a child whose school, place of care, or child care is closed or unavailable

Through December 31, 2020, leave is at the employee’s regular pay rate and hours, except leave in category (3) above can be at two-thirds pay. Read more here.

Other Sick Leave

In addition to the COVID-19-related paid leave changes, the HFWA also requires employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. In 2020, all employers are required to do so. In 2021, only employers with 16 or more employees are required to provide sick leave to all employees. Starting January 1, 2022, all employers are required to provide sick leave regardless of size. 

For every 30 hours an employee works, a sick leave accrual of one hour is required, with a maximum of 48 hours annually. For an exempt salary-paid employee, the 40-hour work week is used to calculate one hour of accrued sick leave. Employers can exceed the 48 hours if they so choose to provide additional benefits. This accrual does start immediately upon hire of the employee and is carried forward to the next year for any unused time.

The employer shall allow the employee to use the accrued sick leave for the following:

  • Mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents the employee from working
  • Need to obtain a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, OR
  • Need to obtain preventive medical care
  • Victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment (disclosure details not required)
  • Public health emergency to include employer’s place of business, school, or child care facility 

This same sick leave also is available to the employee who needs to care for a family member for the above listed items.

Employees can request this leave verbally, in writing, electronically, or by any other means the employer deems acceptable. Employers are permitted to require reasonable documentation from the employee if the employee attempts to use paid sick leave in four or more consecutive work days.

Each employer shall supplement employee accrued sick leave during a public health emergency declaration such that:

  • Employees working 40 or more hours a week shall accrue at least 80 hours of paid sick leave annually
  • For employees who normally work fewer than 40 hours a week, sick leave shall accrue in an amount no less than the greater of:
    • The amount of time the employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period, OR
    • The amount of time the employee actually works on average in a 14-day period

Employers may count an employee’s unused accrued sick leave toward the supplemental paid sick leave. Employees may use paid sick leave until four weeks after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.

Employers should provide written notice to employees of their entitlement to paid sick leave and display the Colorado Department of Labor poster in the office. If employees are working remotely, notice should be provided electronically or through a web-based program. You can download the poster here.

Record retention is required for a two-year period showing hours worked, sick leave accrued, and sick leave used. Any health or safety information maintained by employer should not be maintained in the employee’s personnel file, but in a separate and secure location.

Refer to SB20-205 for full details of the HFWA and read more about employee paid leave rights from the U.S. Department of Labor.

For more information, reach out to your BKD Trusted Advisor™ or use the Contact Us form below.

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