Celebrating One Year of Paid Sick Leave in Colorado: 6 Things Workers Should Know

As we celebrate one year since Colorado enacted the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, we are dedicated to empowering workers in the state with knowledge of their rights under the groundbreaking law.
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One year ago, in a landmark victory, Colorado enacted the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, becoming one of fifteen states to ensure that workers can access the paid time off they need to recover from an illness or injury or to care for a sick loved one. We are proud to have helped to draft the law, and to have played a key role in fighting for its passage on the ground. This victory, which came amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, was especially significant in providing workers across the state both emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave and the permanent right to paid sick days.

As we celebrate one year since Colorado set a new standard for comprehensive, universal paid sick leave, we are dedicated to empowering workers in the state with knowledge of their rights under this groundbreaking law. Read on for six things to know about the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act.

Many workers in Colorado are currently earning paid sick time for general health and safety purposes, and in 2022, nearly every worker will have the permanent right to paid sick time.

All Colorado workers whether full-time or part-time (except Federal workers) who work for an employer with 16 or more employees are entitled to paid sick time for general health and safety needs. 

As of January 1, 2022, employees are covered regardless of business size. 

You earn paid sick time as you work.

Colorado workers in workplaces of 16 or more workers (and workers in smaller businesses as of January 1st) immediately start accruing time as they work under this law, earning 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Workers can earn and use up to 48 hours of paid sick time a year, and can start using their sick time as soon as they earn it, with no waiting period. 

All Colorado workers are currently entitled to paid sick time if they need to take it for COVID-19 purposes, regardless of business size.

The law also provides additional paid sick leave during declared public health emergencies, like COVID-19. As of January 1st, 2021, workers in the state have access to at least 80 hours of paid sick leave (or a proportional amount for part-time workers) for COVID-19 purposes, including any existing accrued paid sick time.

This law doesn’t just cover time off for illness or injury.

In addition to providing workers with paid time off that can be used for physical or mental illness, injury or health conditions, the HFWA also allows you to use paid sick days to care for sick or injured family members, to seek preventative care or treatment for yourself or a family member (such as a check-up or child’s well visits), to address certain needs related to declared public health emergencies such as receiving or recovering from the COVID-19 vaccine, and to take time off to recover if you or a family member has experienced domestic or sexual violence. 

Colorado’s HFWA includes an inclusive definition of family.

We have long championed the importance of inclusive, realistic family definitions in work-family policies, and we’re proud that Colorado’s paid sick leave policy has an inclusive family definition that allows workers to care for those closest to them regardless of biological or legal relationship.

You cannot be punished for exercising your right to paid sick time.

All covered employees in Colorado are protected against retaliation for using or requesting their sick time or attempting to exercise their rights under the law. It is illegal for your employer to discipline, demote, or terminate you, reduce your hours, or threaten to report your citizenship or immigration status for using your paid sick time under the HFWA. 

To learn more about your right to paid sick leave under Colorado’s HFWA and how it applies to the current COVID-19 pandemic, consult our flyer (en español) and fact sheet (en español). For more information about your rights to paid time off under state, local, and federal laws, contact our free confidential legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

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