Colorado’s New Family and Medical Leave Law: What You Need to Know

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.

Bookmark(1)

No account yet? Register

mother and daughter
Colorado voters said yes to Prop 118, paid family and medical leave program

Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative on Tuesday, November 3, granting as much as 16 weeks of job-protected, paid family and medical leave to Centennial State workers — including those who are self-employed — beginning in 2024.

Colorado Families First has estimated that 2.6 million Colorado workers will benefit from the new leave requirement.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest state effort to provide paid leave to workers.

Colorado Families First has estimated that 2.6 million Colorado workers will benefit from the new leave requirement.

Who does the 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 program beginning January 1, 2024.

Exemptions

  • 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 governments can participate
  • Employers who offer an approved private paid family and medical leave plan

How much leave can a worker take?

Workers can take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave, with an additional 4 weeks for complications stemming from pregnancy or childbirth.

Workers can take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave, with an additional 4 weeks for complications stemming from pregnancy or childbirth.

Qualifying reasons for leave?

Covered employees can take leave for:

  • Their own serious health condition
  • To care for a new child through birth, adoption, or foster care placement
  • 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 the leave?

Payroll premiums divided equally between the employer and the employee will 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.

How much will employees be paid?

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, 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 leave is job-protected, 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.

The approval of the ballot initiative isn’t the first time this year that Colorado’s leave laws faced changes. Earlier this summer, Colorado overhauled its paid sick leave laws, including requiring that all employers in the state comply with the paid sick leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) until December 31. The state also added new paid sick leave requirements for employers that begin when the FFCRA expires.

As of July 2020, 8 states and Washington, D.C. have approved legislation to create paid family and medical leave insurance programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bookmark(1)

No account yet? Register

Might also interest you