Colorado Rule Changes Clarify Public Health Emergency Leave for Part-Time Employees and New Employees

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) recently made two small but important changes to its rules interpreting the Healthy Families and Workplaces ActThe changes were published on February 23 and take effect on April 14, 2021 

Beginning January 1, 2021, the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) requires employers with 16 or more employees to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leaveThese rule changes do not affect this leave 

In addition, the Act requires all employers, regardless of their size, to provide public health emergency leave (PHEL) to employees upon the declaration of a public health emergency The COVID-19 pandemic was re-declared to be a public health emergency on December 27, 2020, just prior to the Act’s effective dateThis redeclaration triggered the requirement for employers to provide PHEL to employees beginning January 1, 2021 

For full-time employees employed as of January 1, 2021, employers were required to provide up to 80 hours of PHEL as of that dateFor part-time employees, employers are required to provide an amount of leave equal to the greater of the employee’s actual hours worked in a 14-day period or the employee’s scheduled hours in a 14-day periodWhat was not clear before was which 14-day period employers should use for this calculationNow, the rules say that part-time employees receive PHEL in “the greater of the number of hours the employee (a) is scheduled for work or paid leave in the 14-day period after the leave request, or (b) actually worked in the 14-day period prior to the declaration of the public health emergency or the leave request, whichever is later.”  Tying the calculation of PHEL for part-time employees to the leave request ensures that the amount of leave provided reflects the employee’s current work hours or schedule 

The second change concerns whether employers must provide public health emergency leave to newly hired employeesPreviously, the rules could have been interpreted to mean that new hires would not be eligible for PHELHowever, the rule now makes clear that employees who are hired during a public health emergency are entitled to PHELFull-time new hires should receive PHEL as of their hire datePart-time new hires will receive PHEL based on the timing of their leave request as described above 

While these rule changes are not set to take effect until April 14, 2021, the CDLE has said that employers can rely on thenow since they are clarifications of the rule and not substantive changes to rights and responsibilities under the Act.  

We will continue to keep you updated as changes like this occurContact us with your questions about the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act