Common Questions About the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) took effect on July 15, 2020. Beginning January 1, 2021, HFWA will require employers with 16 or more employees in Colorado to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Beginning January 1, 2022, employers with 15 or fewer employees will also fall under this requirement.

Many of our members are readying themselves to comply with HFWA’s paid sick leave requirements. Here are the common questions were are receiving.

Q: My company operates in multiple states, including Colorado. How do I count my employees to determine when I must comply with HFWA?

A: The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has said that HFWA follows the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA) approach to counting employees to determine employer coverage. FFCRA requires employers to count all full- and part-time employees, employees on leave, and employees in separate establishments or divisions of the business within the U.S. (including D.C. and all U.S. territories). However, covered employers must only provide HFWA leave to Colorado employees.

Q: Does my company need to extend HFWA leave to part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees?

A: Yes. HFWA borrows the definition of an employee from an existing law, the Colorado Wage Act (CWA). The CWA broadly defines an employee as “any person, including a migratory laborer, performing labor or services for the benefit of an employer in which the employer may command when, where, and how much labor or services shall be performed.”  HFWA excludes federal employees and employees covered by the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

Q: Do part-time employees accrue HFWA leave at the same rate as full-time employees?

A: Yes. HFWA requires all covered employees to accrue at a rate of one hour for every 3o hours worked. Because part-time employees work fewer hours, they will accrue leave more slowly than full-time employees.

Q: My company usually grants employees leave rather than having them accrue it. Do I have to change my granting policy to an accrual policy?

A: No. HFWA allows an employer to satisfy the accrual requirements by granting employees an amount of leave at the beginning of the year that meets or exceeds HFWA’s requirements. In this context, “year” means a regular and consecutive 12-month period as determined by the employer.

Q: Does HFWA leave need to be provided in addition to leaves that my company currently provides to employees?

A: No. If an employer has a paid leave policy that satisfies HFWA’s requirements, it is not required to provide additional leave. Employers Council staff can review your current policy to see what needs to change, if anything, to meet HFWA’s requirements.

Q: Are there any advantages to having a separate HFWA policy?

A: It depends. Many employers have moved from separate sick, and vacation policies to combined paid time off (PTO) policies to take advantage of their flexibility. These employers may not want to create a separate HFWA policy. On the other hand, having a separate policy may make it easier to administer when HFWA leave is accrued, when and how much is used, how much must be supplemented in a declared public health emergency, and how much needs to be restored to employees rehired within six months.