Colorado Emergency Paid Sick Leave Bill

March 12, 2020

Effective March 11, 2020, specific employers within Colorado must provide 4 days of paid sick leave for employees whom need testing for the Coronavirus.

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With the passing of the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, all employers will be required to provide paid sick leave to their employees beginning January 1, 2021. Within this Ordinance, Employers are required to provide two types of leave;

  • Paid Sick and Safe Time – up to 48 hours of leave
  • Public Health Emergency Leave – awarded based upon the amount of hours typically worked


Both sick leave provisions apply to all private employers within the state of Colorado. Under the Act, an employee is any individual, including a migratory laborer, performing labor or services for an employer’s benefit. The law does not apply to independent contractors or to employees subject to the Federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

The legislation does not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in effect on the law’s effective date if the CBA provides for equivalent or more generous paid sick leave for employees the CBA covers.


Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) will first apply to employers with 16 or more employees beginning on January 1, 2021, and then will move to all employers on January 1, 2022. At the start of employment, employees are eligible to accrue one hour of paid sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours within a 12-month benefit period. Employees are also allowed to use up to 48 hours with the benefit period.  An employer may provide paid sick leave that accrues at a faster or more generous rate if they choose.

Overtime-exempt employees accrue based on a 40-hour workweek, or their regular workweek if it involves fewer hours. Employers are eligible to frontload 48 hours at the beginning of a 12-month benefit period but the act also does not state if carry-over is required or not.

Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) will only be applicable if a public health emergency is declared by the Governor.

  • If an employee normally works 40 hours or more per week, they are required to receive at least 80 hours of sick time.
  • If an employee normally works fewer than 40 hours in a week then they are required to receive at least the greater of either the amount of time the employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time the employee actually works during an average 14-day period.

Employers may count an employee’s unused paid sick and safe time towards the public health emergency leave that the law requires. The ordinance also states that employees are eligible for PHEL in the above amount only once during the entirety of a public health emergency, even if the PHE is amended, extended, restated, or prolonged. An employee may use PHEL until four week after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.

Acceptable Use

For Paid Sick and Safe Time, employees may use accrued leave for any of the following reasons;

  • mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of the employee or family member;
  • medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to an employee's or family member's illness, injury, or condition;
  • preventive medical care; or
  • due to a public health emergency, or if a public official orders the closure of an employee’s place of business or the school or place of care of an employee’s child and the employee needs to care for the child.

Additionally, if an employee or family member is the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment, employees can use leave for the following “safe” time purposes:

  • seeking medical attention to recover from a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition caused by the domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment;
  • obtaining services from a victim services organization;
  • obtaining mental health or other counseling;
  • seeking relocation due to the domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment; or
  • seeking legal services, including preparing for or participating in a civil or criminal proceeding relating to or resulting from the domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment.

A “family member” for the purposes of this ordinance, includes an employee’s immediate family member (a person related by blood, marriage, civil union, or adoption), a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a minor, and a person for whom the employee is responsible for providing or arranging health or safety related care.

Acceptable uses for Public Health Emergency Leave are as follows;

  • to self-isolate and care for oneself (or a family member who is self-isolating) because the employee (or family member) is diagnosed with, or experience symptoms of, the communicable illness that is the cause for the PHE;
  • to seek or obtain (or care for a family member who needs) medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms associated with a communicable illness that is the cause of the PHE;
  • to seek (for oneself or a family member) preventive care concerning a communicable illness that is the cause of the PHE;
  • if the individual's presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the individual's exposure to the communicable illness or because the employee is exhibiting symptoms of the communicable illness (regardless of diagnosis), as determined by local officials with such authority or the employee's or covered relation's employer;
  • to care for a child or other family member when the child’s care provider is unavailable due to a PHE, or if the child's or family member's school or place of care has been closed by a local, state, or federal public official or at the discretion of the school or place of care due to a PHE, including if a school or place of care is physically closed but providing instruction remotely; or
  • if an employee is unable to work because the employee has a health condition that may increase susceptibility to or risk of communicable illness that is the cause of the PHE.

Pay Requirements

Employers are required to pay leave at the same hourly rate or salary and with the same benefits, including health care benefits, as the employee normally earns during their hours worked, but the “same hourly rate or salary” does not include overtime, bonuses, or holiday day. Employers must pay commission only employees no less than the applicable minimum wage, whereas employees paid an hourly, weekly, or monthly wage and paid on a commission basis are paid their hourly, weekly, or monthly wage or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is greater.

Notice and Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must notify employees that they are entitled to paid sick and safe leave. The notice must specify the amount of paid sick leave to which employees are entitled and the terms of its use under the law and state that employers cannot retaliate against them for requesting or using paid sick leave and that they have the right to file a complaint or bring a civil action if paid sick leave is denied or suffer retaliation.

Employers are required to provide each employee a written notice, and display a CDLE-created poster containing the above information in English and in any language that is the first language spoken by at least 5% of the employer’s workforce.

The ordinance requires employers to maintain records of the amount of leave provided to each employee for a period of two years. The records must maintain the following information hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, and paid sick leave used under the ordinance.

If an employer does not have a physical workplace, or has an employee teleworks or performs work through a web-based platform, the employer must provide the notice through an electronic communication or conspicuous posting on the web-based platform.

Employers who violate the notice and posting requirements are subject to civil fines up to $100 per violation.

If an employers business is closed due to a public health emergency or a disaster emergency due to a public health concern, the notice and posting requirements are waived for the period the business is closed.

Next Steps

Paylocity will have the accrual requirements set up with our system prior to January 1, 2021. Please work with your account manager if you have questions about how to add a time off type, or approve time off.

For more detailed information on Colorado’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave requirements, please click here.

Thank you for choosing Paylocity as your Payroll Tax and HCM partner.

This information is provided as a courtesy, may change and is not intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney or Advisor.

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