Proposed Initiative #283 Increases Paid Family Leave in Colorado – At a Cost

While the presidential election gets the most attention, Colorado has several ballot proposals up for election. Specifically, Proposition 118 (or Initiative #283), which, if passed, will create a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. The measure was certified for the ballot on August 25, 2020.

The ballot initiative would create a division of family and medical leave insurance within the department of labor and employment to administer the program. The initial premium rate is set in the measure at 0.90 percent of wages per employee in the program’s first two years. The employer must pay at least 50 percent of the premium, but may choose to contribute a larger percentage. The employee is responsible for up to 50 percent of the premium, depending on the employer’s contribution. The premium is calculated based on the employee’s taxable wages. After, a premium would be set by the state of up to 1.2% of each employee’s wages. The paid leave would need to be funded prior to any employee being able to take the leave. The earliest employees would be able to take this paid leave would be January 1, 2024.

To be eligible, an employee would need to (1) meet the definition of a covered individual and (2) meets one of the following requirements:

  • Because of birth, adoption, or placement through foster care, is taking care of a new child during the first year after the birth, adoption, or placement through foster care;
  • Is caring for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Has a serious health condition;
  • Because of any qualifying exigency leave;
  • Has a need for safe leave.

Under this program, the maximum weekly benefit would be $1,100.

This proposed initiative would cover all Colorado employers with 1 or more employees. Local governments could opt out of the program, and the proposal includes an exemption for private employers who offer an approved private paid family and medical leave plan.

Employers may want to explain this measure to employees, including the fact that this would be paid by employee contributions. For more information, members should contact Employers Council or go to the Colorado Secretary of State web page on Amendments and Propositions on the 2020 ballot.