The following article was written by Robin Repass and Kristin R.B. Whiteour at our partner Fisher Phillips.
The ending of the national COVID-19 public-health emergency means something more for Colorado employers: it triggers the end of the extra Public Health Emergency (PHE) sick leave you have been providing your employees since January 2021. Effective June 8, you will no longer be obligated to provide such leave. However, you still have additional employee-leave obligations you will need to follow, even with the impending end of the PHE sick leave. What do Colorado employers need to know?
All employers in Colorado have been obligated to provide PHE leave for COVID-19-related absences since January 1, 2021. The law was enacted to address the COVID-19 pandemic and contains broad language applicable to any public-health emergency declared by federal, state, or local public-health agency.
Under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) PHE leave provision, employers have been required to provide an additional amount of paid sick leave during the COVID-19 public health emergency in an amount based on the number of hours the employee worked. There has been no documentation requirement for an employee when taking PHE leave for self-isolation due to a positive diagnosis, seeking medical treatment with respect to a disease, caring for a family member or a child, or inability to work due to pre-existing health conditions.
Read more about the obligations that have been in effect for two years here.
Ending of PHE Leave
Thanks to the federal government’s actions, Colorado employers will finally see an end to HFWA’s PHE leave. As we summarized here, the Department of Health and Human Services public-health emergency expired on May 11, which triggers the end of the state-based obligation.
This PHE status has been renewed every three months since January 2021, keeping Colorado employers on the hook for paying PHE leave. When the emergency expired on May 11, 2023, it meant that Colorado employees’ entitlement to supplemental leave for the COVID-19 emergency would end four weeks later, so as of June 8, you will no longer need to administer such leave.
Where Does that Leave Colorado Employers?
As a result, you should review the obligations under Colorado’s HFWA that will remain in effect. You should also make sure you have updated your Paid Leave posters and notices and are providing COMPS Order #38 to employees with any handbook updates. The Paid Leave poster and notice provides employees with a written notice of their rights under HFWA. You should also ensure that your policies are up to date, and you should schedule an internal training for your human-resources staff and managers on the revised and continued requirements.
We will continue to monitor the paid-leave situation in Colorado and provide updates as necessary. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Insight System to have the most up-to-date information delivered directly to your inbox. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, the authors of this Insight, or any attorney in our Denver office.