In 2021, four important laws or regulations that affect employment in Colorado were updated.
It’s good practice to review and update your HR policies and handbooks on an annual basis. If you have questions or need assistance, contact us. Our HR experts are ready to help you navigate the complex world of employment law.
Paid sick leave for employees
The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act requires businesses to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Effective January 1, 2022, all Colorado employers will be required to offer paid sick leave to all employees (full-time and part-time).
- This requirement is from State Bill 20-205, a part of the HFWA (Healthy Family and Workplace Act).
- 48 hours of leave per full-time employee must be provided during a calendar year (prorated for part-time employees). Employees will accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
- Unused sick leave during a calendar year must be allowed to roll over to the next year. The employer does have some say on how much can be used in one calendar year if the employee has more than 48 hours available.
- Download the the updated Colorado Paid Leave & Whistleblower Poster from the Department of Labor & Employment website.
Vacation and PTO pay upon separation
The Colorado Supreme Court issued its decision in Nieto v. Clark’s Market, Inc. on June 14, 2021, addressing vacation pay under Colorado’s Wage Claim Act. The act provides that upon termination, all wages or compensation that are “earned, vested, determinable, and unpaid at the time of such discharge is due and payable immediately.” The definition of wages or compensation includes vacation pay.
The act further provides, “If an employer provides paid vacation for an employee, the employer shall pay upon separation from employment all vacation pay earned and determinable in accordance with the terms of any agreement between the employer and employee.”
Whether you call it vacation or paid time off (PTO), the accrued time must be paid out upon termination of employment.
Download the Supreme Court Opinion.
New protections for gender expression and gender identity
Effective September 1, 2021, Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) was amended to create “gender expression” and “gender identity” as protected categories. It also broadens the definition of “sexual orientation.”
The statutes add gender expression and gender identity to protected categories in housing discrimination and employment practices. Several other sections of the statute were also amended to prohibit discrimination against any person for gender identity and gender expression, in addition to the previously protected categories that include race, sex, gender, or religion.
Minimum wage increase
Effective January 1, 2022 the minimum wage in Colorado will increase to $12.56. Please note that Denver’s minimum wage increases to $15.87 per hour on the same date.
Download the updated COMPS Order poster from the Department of Labor & Employment website.