Centennial State workers will be able to access up to 12 weeks (as much as 16 weeks in certain cases) of job-protected, paid family and medical leave starting in 2024.
Colorado is one of the latest states to approve a new family and medical leave law. Voters in the state approved the medical leave act on a ballot initiative in 2022, and it will provide FMLA leave for up to 16 weeks. This will be job-protected, paid family and medical leave. This is aimed at most workers in the Centennial State, including those who are self-employed. It will be fully in effect beginning in 2024.
Colorado Families First has estimated that 2.6 million Colorado workers will benefit from the new leave requirement. This will help to reduce the burden and worry of a large number of people concerned about paid family leave in Colorado. Of course, it is important to have a good understanding of what it entails.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest state effort to provide paid leave to workers.
Who does the Colorado paid family leave law cover?
Generally, any person who has earned at least $2,500 in wages, has a qualifying reason, elects coverage, and submits an application has coverage. Self-employed workers can choose to participate.
Workers can start getting paid for leave under the CO PFML program beginning January 1, 2024.
Workers can start receiving pay for leave under the CO PFML program beginning January 1, 2024.
- Employers with fewer than 10 employees have an exemption from paying the employer portion of the premium; however, their employees can elect to participate and pay the employee share of the premium.
- Local governments can opt out of the program; however, employees of a local government can participate.
- Employers who offer an approved private paid family and medical leave plan. These types of plans will often have more benefits than what’s provided by the new state law.
How much leave can a Colorado worker take?
This is one of the most common questions most Colorado employees are going to have. Workers can take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave, with an additional 4 weeks for complications stemming from pregnancy or childbirth.
What are qualifying reasons for Colorado leave?
Covered employees can take leave for a wide range of reasons. Some of these reasons include the following:
- To take care of their own serious health condition.
- To care for a new child through birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
- Or, to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- A family member’s military deployment.
- Safe leave in cases involving domestic violence or sexual assault or abuse.
Who pays for Colorado paid family medical leave?
Taxpayers in the state often wonder where the money for the Colorado paid family medical leave insurance program comes from.
It stems from payroll premiums divided equally between the employer and the employee. This is where the money comes from to fund the program. Employers have the authorization to deduct up to 50% of the premium from an employee’s wages.
Employers must start collecting premiums on January 1, 2023. Between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2024, a premium of 0.09% of each employee’s wages — up to a cap — will be collected. Thereafter, up to 1.2% of each employee’s wages will be required.
The average Colorado worker will pay $3.83 per week, according to Colorado Families First. Most eligible employees feel this is a small price to pay.
How much will Colorado employees be paid during leave?
The program provides for partially paid benefits. Employees will receive up to 90% of their pay during their leave. The maximum weekly benefit is $1,100 but that amount will adjust as the state average weekly wage increases, Colorado Families First has explained.
The leave is job-protected, it can be taken in increments of 1 hour or less if the lesser measure is commonly used by the employer, and employers are forbidden from retaliating against those who participate.
The new division of family and medical leave within the state’s labor department will administer the program. There will be an enforcement mechanism and an appeal process for denied claims.
The measure had its detractors. While supporters argued that paid leave is “a critical support so that working families can deal with health issues,” opponents argued that “it’s a burden that businesses can’t deal with amid the pandemic downturn and recovery,” Colorado Public Radio has reported.
More states are approving paid family and medical leave
As of 2022, 13 states and Washington, D.C. have approved legislation to create paid family and medical leave insurance programs. There will likely be more states in the future that pass these types of laws to provide some added measure of protection for their employees.
This article has been updated.