Colorado Governor Signs 3-in-1 Paid Leave Bill

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a law that will institute a 3-in-1 paid leave requirements for COVID-19, paid sick & safe time and future public health emergencies.


July 16, 2020

On July 14, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed a bill (SB20-205) that will institute 3-in-1 paid leave requirements for COVID-19, paid sick and safe time and future public health emergencies.

The law sets similar requirements for all three leave provisions, including a definition of eligible employees, employee notice requirements, employer recordkeeping requirements (2 years) and adoption of Colorado’s existing broad definition of a family member, with the addition of people for whom the employees are responsible for providing or arranging care. See below for more details on the different leave provisions.

COVID-19 Leave

Like many other cities and states enacting temporary leave requirements, the bill requires Colorado employers not subject to the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (generally those with more than 499 employees) to provide 80 hours of leave for purposes related to COVID-19, including:

  • Self-quarantine or caring for someone who is self-quarantining.
  • Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or substantially similar symptoms as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary; and
  • Caring for a child whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19- related issues.

Unlike the federal law, the bill does not subsidize the newly extended leave. The COVID-19 leave provisions take effect on July 14 but expire by December 31, 2020. It’s unclear how this leave will interact with the Governor’s existing Executive Order requiring 80 hours of Health Emergency Leave with Pay for COVID-19.

Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)

Beginning in 2021, the law will:

  • Require employers to provide employees with 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked up to 48 hours of leave per year.
  • Permit employers to front-load 48 hours of leave per year. However, it is unclear if front-loading time would alleviate employers’ obligations to permit employees to carry over 48 hours of time to the next year.
  • Permit employees to use the leave in 1-hour increments as soon as it is accrued, an unusual arrangement because most paid leave laws establish employee waiting periods of 90 to 180 days.
  • Permit employees to use paid leave for illness, care for a family member, preventive medical care, safe time (domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, etc.), public health emergencies or school closures.
  • Allow deemed compliance for employers with existing policies that provide as or more generous leave, except that employers must also have policies providing leave for public health emergencies (see below).
  • Require employers to reinstate paid leave balances when employees are rehired within 6 months of termination unless unused accrued paid leave is cashed out at the time of separation.
  • Permit employees to be absent for 4 consecutive days before being required to substantiate the absence, which differs from the typical state and local standard of 3 consecutive days.

Public Health Emergency Leave

Beginning on the date of a future declared public health emergency, the law will:

  • Require employers to provide:
    • 80 hours of paid leave to full-time employees (defined as working 40 hours or more per week)
    • For employees not working full-time, the greater of either the amount of time employees are scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time employees work on average in a 14-day period.
  • Permit employers to count employees’ unused and accrued PSST against the requirement.
  • Permit employees to use time for self-isolation (including those people at high risk) and care for eligible family members and to seek or obtain medical treatment, preventive care, and care for a child whose place of care, school or caregiver are unable to provide care, including if a school or place of care is physically closed, but providing instruction remotely.
  • Provide employees with only the amounts described above during a declared public health emergency, regardless of duration.
  • Provide employees with a 4-week grace period to use the time after the official termination of the emergency order.

For more details on the paid leave provisions, please visit our paid sick leave tool.

Next Steps

The Business Group recommends that employers with operations in Colorado:

  • Review current leave policies to determine what changes to leave provisions you may need to make to accommodate the new state and local requirements; and
  • Work with HR, payroll and any third-party vendors to determine what steps, if any, are needed to comply.

Questions, Comments or Concerns?

If you have questions, comments, or concerns please contact us.

We provide this material for informational purposes only; it is not a substitute for legal advice.

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  1. COVID-19 Leave
  2. Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)
  3. Public Health Emergency Leave
  4. Next Steps