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How much paid sick leave do I have to offer my staff? Outside of any state or federal public-health emergency (PHE), employers must offer employees one accrued hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum 48 hours.

During a PHE, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, all employers must immediately provide each employee additional paid leave — supplementing whatever leave the employee accrued before the PHE with enough supplemental leave to assure the employee can take leave in the following amounts:

  1. for employees normally working 40 or more hours in a week, 80 hours of total leave;
  2. for employees normally working under 40 hours in a week, the greater of the number of hours the employee
    1. is scheduled for work in the fourteen-day period after the leave request, or
    2. actually worked in the fourteen-day period prior to the declaration of the PHE or the leave request.

What if my employee was already provided and has since exhausted the supplemental 80 hours of public-health emergency leave and has now been exposed to COVID-19 again? Do they get an additional 80 hours? No. The additional paid leave is a one-time benefit per pandemic for each employee.

Does any accrued but unused paid sick leave roll over into the next year? Yes. Accrual starts when employment begins and any accrued but unused time must roll over into the next year. Employees may carry forward up to 48 hours, but, they do not at any point accrue or get to use any more than 48 hours.


  • Employee A accrued 48 hours of paid sick leave in 2021 and did not use any of it. They will start 2022 with 48 hours and will not begin accruing additional paid sick leave.
  • Employee B accrued 48 hours of leave in 2021 and used 20 of their hours. They will start 2022 with 28 hours of leave, and will accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 20 hours of leave for 2022.

My employee says they have COVID-19. Can I require them to show me their test result? No. You cannot require any documentation for PHE leave.

My employee says they were exposed to COVID-19. Can I require them to show a negative test result before returning to work? Yes. You can require a negative test result to return to work. You cannot require any test or other documentation in order to grant the employee their paid PHE leave.

My employee took an at-home test. Can they rely on this as an adequate source to claim public-health emergency leave? Yes, employees can rely on home tests to trigger public-health emergency leave. They do not have to show any documentation to claim the leave.

Due to staffing shortages, I need to close down my restaurant for a few days. Do I need to pay my employees for those missed shifts? No. Paid leave is not required if a business is completely closed, unless the workplace is closed due to a temporary government quarantine or isolation order that triggers paid leave. Completely closed means there are no staff working during the “closed” period, including takeout and delivery.

How much do I have to pay them? Do I include tips? You are required to pay the full minimum wage for your jurisdiction, unless the employee’s regular rate of pay is more than minimum wage, in which case you would pay them their regular rate of pay.


  • Employee A is a tipped worker making $12.85/hour plus tips in Denver. You would pay Employee A the full Denver minimum wage of $15.87/hour for their hours of paid leave.
  • Employee B is a tipped worker making $9.54/hour plus tips in Douglas County. You would pay Employee B the full state minimum wage of $12.56/hour for their hours of paid leave.
  • Employee C is a back-of-house worker making $17/hour. You would pay employee C their regular wage of $17/hour for their hours paid leave.

What can employees use public-health emergency leave for? Employees can use PHE leave for:

  • Need to quarantine
  • Care, diagnosis, or treatment
  • Exposure
  • Inability to work due to increased susceptibility
  • Care for a family member

Do I have to pay for this? Isn’t there a federal tax credit? At this time, there are no state or federal tax credits to reimburse employers for paid leave.

Additional Resources

CDLE Info Sheet #6B | Spanish Version
CDLE Info Sheet #6C | Spanish Version

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