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Colorado Sets A New Standard For Paid Sick Leave

Colorado Sets A New Standard for Paid Sick Leave

On July 14, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, which guarantees workers the right to earn paid sick time. A Better Balance was thrilled to play a pivotal role in the campaign.

The victory in Colorado is especially significant given the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. Paid sick leave has been shown to improve public health, reduce the spread of contagion, and provide a critical safety net to workers who are struggling to make ends meet. Our Denver-based Vice President, Jared Make, helped to draft SB-205 based on our model legislation, met with many elected officials and business leaders from across the state, and worked closely with bill sponsors and Colorado partners to secure its passage.

Colorado joins 12 states, Washington D.C., and dozens of cities in establishing a legal right to paid sick leave for personal or family health needs. And we are thrilled that the Colorado policy establishes a new standard for the movement! The law, once fully implemented, will provide a right to paid sick time to all workers in the state, regardless of industry or business size. Such universal coverage is especially important for low-wage workers and service industry workers—disproportionately women and people of color—who are among the least likely to have access to paid sick time. Our grocery workers, healthcare workers, delivery workers, and other frontline workers are playing a critical role protecting and caring for Coloradans during the pandemic, and this law will ensure they can protect themselves, their loved ones, and the health of the public.

In addition to filling gaps in the federal government’s temporary, COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave law, Colorado’s new legislation establishes a permanent right to paid sick time. Workers in Colorado will be able to earn, based on hours worked, up to 48 hours of paid sick time a year that can be used for personal or family health needs and needs related to domestic abuse and sexual assault. The law also provides an additional up to 80 hours of paid sick leave during a declared public health emergency. Importantly, the law has an inclusive family definition, no waiting period on use of accrued sick time, and strong enforcement measures.

A full overview of Colorado’s new paid sick time law is available here.

“Across the United States, far too many workers are forced to make impossible choices between their jobs and their personal or family well-being,” said A Better Balance Vice President Jared Make, who is based in Colorado. “Colorado’s new paid sick time law will help to ease this burden, especially for low-wage workers who are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

We applaud Governor Polis for signing this measure into law, and thank the bill’s sponsors—Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, Senator Jeff Bridges, Speaker of the House KC Becker, and Representative Yadira Caraveo—for their leadership on this legislation. We also congratulate Colorado’s paid leave coalition and our close, long-time partners at 9to5 Colorado for this victory, which would not have been possible without their years of work, including the building of a grassroots movement for paid leave in Colorado. We look forward to helping to implement the law.

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