Stacy Jensen No Comments

The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) requires Colorado employers to provide two types of paid sick leave to their employees: public health emergency (PHE) leave and accrued leave. The following points apply to both PHE and accrued leave.

  • Leave must be paid for time on leave, and at the same pay rate the employee earns during time worked.
  • Leave can’t be counted against employees as absences that may lead to firing or other negative action.

Public Health Emergency (PHE) Leave (Updated to Include Similar Respiratory Illnesses)

Update – November 11, 2022 – Public Health Emergency Leave is Still in Effect — and has Expanded from Just COVID to Flu and RSV Too! 
In addition to “accrued paid sick leave” (addressed below), all Colorado employers, regardless of size or industry, still must provide employees with public health emergency (“PHE”) leave (two weeks — 80 hours, or less for part-time employees) under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). Colorado’s 80-hour PHE leave is ongoing: It continues as long as a federal or state PHE is declared (C.R.S. § 8-13.3-402(9)) — and while state public health orders have been scaled back, currently federal and Colorado PHEs both remain declared.

As of November 11, 2022, the conditions covered by Colorado’s latest PHE declaration include health needs related to not just COVID, but also flu, respiratory syncytial virus (“RSV”), and similar respiratory illnesses. Those with flu or RSV symptoms already were likely covered as having COVID symptoms — so a key impact of this expansion may be that coverage remains even if testing confirms someone has flu or RSV rather than COVID. The expansion beyond COVID doesn’t give employees an extra 80 hours for those conditions, it just means they can use their 80 hours for a broader range of conditions.

PHE leave is usable for a range of PHE-related needs, not just for confirmed cases. PHE-related needs include:

  • Symptoms of COVID, flu, RSV or other similar respiratory illnesses
  • Quarantining or isolating due to exposure
  • Testing for COVID or similar respiratory illnesses
  • Vaccination and its side effects
  • Inability to work due to health conditions that may increase susceptibility or risk of COVID, flu, RSV or similar respiratory illnesses
  • Needs to care for family (illness, school closure, etc.)

Employers cannot require documentation from employees to show that leave is for PHE-related needs. 

This 80-hour PHE leave will continue until four weeks after all applicable PHE declarations end or are suspended. Based on the current emergency declarations, PHE emergency leave will continue at least into February 2023, but will continue longer if either the federal or the state PHE declaration is renewed further into 2023.

This excerpt taken from: