We’re reaching out with an update and reminder on some updates to Colorado employment law that do or will affect you and that are significantly different from existing law:
1. Firstly, and newly, proposition 118, which allows for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees has been approved. An additional four weeks of leave are allowed for pregnancy or childbirth complications. The first premiums will be paid beginning on January 1, 2023, and benefits will begin to be available on January 1, 2024. Under Proposition 118, employers cannot take disciplinary or retaliatory actions against employees for requesting or using paid leave. During the next two years, prior to the beginning of the premium payments, we will update you on this mandate which affects employers with 10 or more employees. We will need to hear more from the CO DOL prior to changing any policies or reaching out to employees regarding their rights or any applicable waiting periods.
2. A reminder – Colorado employers can no longer ask prospective employees about their criminal history. The state’s “ban the box” legislation, went into effect September of 2019 for employers with 11 or more workers. Come September 2021, it will apply to all businesses in Colorado. This law prohibits a checkbox on employment applications that ask applicants to reveal whether they have been convicted of a felony. Dubbed the “Colorado Chance to Compete Act,” the bill also bans employers from stating in job postings that people with a criminal history can’t apply. As of Sept. 1, the law applies to companies with 11 or more workers.
3. Equal pay for Equal Work Act:
Starting January 1, 2021, Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (SB 19-085) will prohibit all employers from discriminating because of sex (including gender identity) — alone or with another protected status — by paying less for substantially similar work in terms of skill, effort and responsibility. Every employer with any employees in the state will have to comply with the law.
Highlights of the Act
The law aims to increase pay equity and transparency, imposes new notice and recordkeeping requirements, and encourages companies to regularly self-audit their compensation practices. Employees are protected against sex-based pay discrimination for work requiring similar skill, effort and responsibility. The law permits pay differences arising from:
A seniority system
A merit system
A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production
The geographic location where the work is performed
Education, training, or experience reasonably related to the work
Travel that is a regular and necessary condition of the job
Employers can’t prevent employees from discussing their own compensation information with other employees or require employees to sign a waiver preventing them from discussing their compensation.
The law also prohibits employers from asking about job candidates’ wage history or relying on wage history to determine a wage rate. Employers can’t discriminate or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to disclose wage history.
Job-Posting Notices and Recordkeeping:
New notice requirements will help current and prospective employees learn about job opportunities:
Employers will have to make reasonable efforts to “announce, post, or make known all opportunities for promotion” to all current employees on the same calendar day.
Each job-vacancy posting will have to disclose the hourly wage or salary, or the hourly wage or salary range, along with a general description of all benefits and other compensation offered.
Employees can report posting violations to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment within one year of learning of the violation.
Employers must keep records of job descriptions and wage history for each employee while employed and for two years after termination.
4. COMPS 36 will now reach almost all private employers in Colorado. Minimum guaranteed salary for exempt persons as of 1/1/2021 will be $40,500. You must either increase salary or change to non-exempt for applicable employees who are earning less than this amount.
The COMPS order also mandates that if a non-exempt employee is not authorized and permitted to take a 10-minute rest period as required under the Order, his or her employer must pay an additional 10 minutes of wages for each missed rest period. Two 5 minute breaks are permissible in lieu of the 10 minute breaks if they are actual breaks. This rule doesn’t apply to exempt employees.
5. Healthy Family and Workplaces Act:
All employers in Colorado with 16 or more employees, effective 1/1/2021, must offer paid sick leave pursuant to the following provisions:
All employees are eligible for sick leave. Employees who work less than part time including temporary or seasonal employees accrue .033 hours of sick leave for every hour worked.
Employees are allowed to use accrued sick leave when:
The employee or employee’s family member:
Has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents the employee from working
Seeks a doctor’s care or diagnosis
Needs to obtain preventative medical care
Seeks medical attention, victim services, mental health services, or legal services as a result of domestic abuse, sexual harassment, or harassment.
If a public official has ordered school or business closures due to a public health emergency
Documentation may be required if leave is four or more consecutive work days. Sick requests may be made in whatever manner is reasonable for the employee.
Employees may use sick leave in hourly increments.
A copy of the act in its entirety follows:
If you have 16 or more employees, we emailed you about this the end of August with the updated version of your handbook to comply with the new law, and are updating our system to flip the switch on 1/1/2021 to ensure your PTO tables are also in compliance. If we did not reach out to you it is because you had less than 16 employees in 2020, but you will be subject to the act as of 1/1/2022 (when it applies to all Colorado employers). You will hear from us near August of 2021 if you are an employer with less than 16 employees regarding the updates.
We realize these are a lot of significant changes. We are here to support and educate, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions. We are thinking of you and hope you are staying safe and healthy.