As many of our members know, the Colorado legislature is considering a bill (HB13-1222) to create a state-based FMLA framework that would significantly expand the persons for whom an employee may take protected leave. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cherilyn Peniston of Westminster, would have guaranteed 12 weeks of protected leave for an employee to take care of their grandparents, in-laws, adult children, uncles, cousins, and civil-union partners or domestic partners who have a serious health condition. Since state law cannot limit federal law, the bill would grant an extra 12 weeks on top of federal FMLA, so an employee could hypothetically take a total of 24 weeks of protected time off per year.
However, in response to significant opposition from business groups, Rep. Peniston has significantly amended the bill. On Tuesday, March 19, she stated that she would limit the bill to only include civil-union partners and domestic partners. Domestic partners are recognized in Denver and Boulder, and civil unions will be recognized statewide beginning May 1 based on recently passed legislation. The bill will still give employees up to 12 weeks to care for a domestic partner or civil-union partner and another 12 weeks under federal FMLA, but the changes were enough for most business groups to withdraw their objections.