New Paid Sick Leave Law in Colorado

By Kris Janisch
Published July 16, 2020

Colorado’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

The paid sick leave law in Colorado, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021, and includes a coronavirus-related component.

Colorado has a new paid sick leave law.

Gov. Jared Polis on July 14 signed the bill, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021. It applies to all employers in Colorado.

The legislation calls for employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 48 hours. It applies to both hourly and salaried employees.

Under Colorado’s new paid sick leave law — dubbed the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act — employees are allowed to use leave as it is accrued. Any unused paid leave time can be carried over the following calendar year.

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Employers that offer comparable paid leave do not need to provide additional paid sick leave.

Coronavirus Considerations

Notably, the act also has a provision related to the coronavirus pandemic:

Requires an employer to provide its employees an additional amount of paid sick leave during a public health emergency in an amount based on the number of hours the employee works.

That amount appears to be about two weeks and covers reasons that include:

  • Self-isolation
  • Seeking medical care
  • Caring for family members
  • Sheltering in place due to a public order
  • Staying home due to being at risk for the particular issue

Colorado Paid Sick Leave: Reasons for Use

The reasons for using paid sick leave in Colorado are rather extensive compared to some other states.

Reasons for use include:

  • Mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
  • Medical diagnosis, care, or treatment
  • Preventive medical care
  • Care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
  • Care for a family member who needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment or needs to obtain preventive medical care
  • Time for the employee or family member do deal with domestic abuse, sexual assault or harassment and needs to be absent from work for purposes related to such crime
  • Care for an employee’s child due to closures of schools of workplaces

Colorado Paid Sick Leave: Other Considerations

GovDocs Paid Leave demoThe new paid sick leave law in Colorado also contains provisions typically seen in paid leave legislation, including:

  • Prohibitions on retaliation against employees who use paid sick leave
  • Written notices of the act to employees
  • Displaying the related labor law poster
  • Recordkeeping of hours worked and paid sick leave accrued

Colorado Paid Sick Leave: Definition of Family Member

Though the reasons for use under the law are broad, its definition of family member is more limited.

A family member means:

  • An employee’s immediate family member
  • A child to whom the employee stands in the place of a parent or had that standing when the employee was a minor
  • A person for whom the employee is responsible for providing or arranging health and safety care


While states, counties and cities have been crafting their own paid leave laws for some time, the federal government has stepped in recently with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as well as paid federal parental leave, which goes into effect Oct. 1, 2020.

The pandemic has opened the doors for many jurisdictions to create new paid leave laws or tweak existing legislation to cover public health emergencies. Colorado’s new law is reflective of that.

With the tide of new paid leave laws continuing, it will be interesting to see whether new bills include measures to cover employees in the event of another pandemic.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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