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Paid Sick Leave for All Colorado Employers Coming in 2022

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On January 1, 2022, all employers in Colorado will be required to provide paid sick leave to employees under the Colorado Health Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). Employers with more than 16 employees have been required to comply since January of this year. The CDLE’s guidance on HFWA paid sick leave can be found here under INFO #6A and #6B.  

Although HFWA’s requirements are relatively straightforward, employers should take care to compare their current leave policies with HFWA’s to determine whether their existing leave policies can be considered equivalent to or “more generous” than what HFWA requires. For example, one provision that is often overlooked is that HFWA requires all employees to begin accruing on the first day of work, while many existing policies do not allow new employees to accrue leave until several months have passed. A leave policy that does not allow accrual until several months after hire would therefore fall below the minimum benefits guaranteed by HFWA and would not be compliant.

Remember also that Colorado remains in a public health emergency and that HFWA’s provisions regarding COVID-19 related leave remains in place. These obligations are in addition to paid sick leave and will continue until the state of emergency is lifted.

Please reach out to us at 719-212-2890 or schedule an appointment here if you would like us to help you reviewing your existing leave policies or employee handbook. We look forward to discussing your options with you.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act Changes How Colorado Employers Hire, Promote, and Pay Workers

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Paid sick leave seems to have stolen the thunder from the Colorado Equal Pay For Equal Work Act, but the EPEW Act also came into effect on January 1, 2021 and brings some major changes in how employers hire and compensate employees.

In a nutshell, EPEW prohibits discrimination in pay on the basis of gender.  To this end, Colorado employers are now required to announce all advancement opportunities to all employees, and each job posting must include a predetermined pay range. This law also prohibits seeking or relying upon a prospective employee’s past pay history in determining compensation, and also discriminating against employees who refuse to provide their pay history.

Something to also note is that the EPEW Act now has a defined list of 6 approved reasons for pay disparity (seniority, merit, quantity/quality of production, geographic location, education/training/experience, and job-required travel.)  This is different than the federal Equal Pay Act, which has a much broader catchall provision. The EPEW Act also encourages employers to proactively address equal pay issues through a self-audit, which may later be used as a defense against the law’s liquidated damages provision.

The full text of the EPEW Act can be found here.

Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act Creates Paid Sick Leave for Colorado Workers

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The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act is Colorado’s paid sick leave law, and will begin requiring all employers with 16 or more employees to grant up to 48 hours of paid sick leave to employees beginning January 1, 2021.  Smaller employers will be required to start providing paid sick leave starting in 2022.

Wrongfully denied paid sick leave is treated as unpaid wages under the Colorado Wage Act, therefore can incur significant penalties for employers. If you’re an employer, start reviewing your PTO policies to see if your existing policy satisfies HFWA and make changes as needed. If you’re an employee, be sure you understand how your employer’s PTO policies work starting in 2021.

A point of confusion we’ve seen is that many Colorado employers do not realize that HFWA has a separate, COVID-19 related leave provision that has been effect since July 2020.  Under HFWA, employees are entitled to take up to two weeks for COVID-19 related reasons, ranging from waiting for COVID-19 test results to return, symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and the need to care for family members due to COVID-19 (including children who are remote learning.)  Both employers and employees should note that the two weeks of guaranteed COVID-19 related sick leave is provided in addition to HFWA’s 48 hours of sick leave.

This law has been the subject of a lot of confusion, and we welcome the opportunity to help you navigate these new requirements.

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