Further Guidance on Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

On Wednesday, December 23, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment  (CDLE) adopted temporary or emergency rules that amend the Wage Protection Rules. The rules refer to the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) and explain that a “public health emergency” related to COVID-19 already has triggered the requirement to provide 80 hours of paid leave for COVID-19 needs (or proportionately fewer hours for part-time employees) that employees may use as of January 1, 2021.

The HFWA allows COVID leave to continue four weeks following the end of a declared public health emergency (PHE). On December 26, 2020, Governor Jared Polis extended Colorado’s current PHE to end January, 25, 2021, so the 80 hours of leave requirement is extended to at least February 22, 2021, four weeks after January 25, 2021. If the Governor extends the PHE another 30 days, that four weeks will roll forward again.

The Rules also state that 2021 COVID Leave is a new supplement of up to 80 hours based on an emergency declaration; they are not a continuation of the 2020 COVID leave that was based on the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA). Under section § 405 of the HFWA, as of January 1, 2021, employees will start using a new 80-hour COVID leave supplement, whether employees use all 80 hours at once or divide them among multiple qualifying events.

The CDLE has created a new Interpretive Notice & Formal Opinion (INFO) # 6C: “How Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”) Paid Leave Differs in 2020 & 2021, and How It Differs from Federal Law, Prior Colorado Law, and Paid Family/Medical Leave” – The INFO makes clear:

  • 80-hour COVID leave has been triggered for 2021 by a public health emergency;
  • limits on the scope or duration of federal paid leave laws or tax credits do not limit the paid leave required by Colorado law; and
  • all employees and all employers, of all sizes and in all sectors, are covered by 80-hour COVID leave (in both 2020 and 2021), with the exceptions that federal government employees and certain railroad employees are exempt. This means that employers with fewer than 16 employees must provide 80-hour COVID leave, despite not having to provide 48-hour general paid leave until 2022.

Please contact Employers Council with questions.