Colorado Extends FMLA Coverage for Family Members

*Note: This blog was written in 2013, and may not be accurate to date.

English: Head shot of Denver, Colorado mayor J...

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law The Colorado Family Care Act (HB13-1222). The Act allows Colorado employees to take temporary protected leave from employment as allowed under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) but expands the family members who can be cared for by employees under the FMLA.

Under the federal FMLA, an employee is entitled to 12 weeks of leave each year to care for a spouse, child, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition. The new Colorado law expands the family members to include a person to whom the employee is related by:

  • Blood
  • Adoption
  • Legal custody
  • Marriage
  • Civil union
  • Committed, “live-in” relationship

As a result, an employee is permitted to use FMLA leave for a child, regardless of the age or dependency of the child, as well as for a sibling, partner in a civil union, grandparent, grandchild, or in-law.

Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. Although FMLA leave is unpaid, employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.

When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.

An employee who is denied leave to care for a person in the expanded group of family members has the right to recover damages or equitable relief, as is currently the case for persons denied leave to care for a family member for whom leave is permitted under the FMLA.

Who Is Covered?

Colorado employers must comply with the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.

Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have:

  • been employed with covered company for at least a year.
  • worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year.
  • work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.


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