Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
On June 2, 2023, Governor Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 23-017, which expands the reasons employees can use paid sick leave under Colorado’s Healthy Families & Workplaces Act (HFWA). In addition to the health and safety-related reasons employees can take sick leave under the prior iteration of the HFWA, employees may now access paid leave for qualifying bereavement and natural disaster-related reasons.
Before SB 23-017 became law, Colorado employers were required to provide paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents work;
- obtaining preventive medical care (including a vaccination), or a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
- obtaining medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, legal or other victim services, or relocation required as a result of being a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment;
- care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or who needs the sort of care listed in categories 1-3; or
- closure by a public official of the employee’s place of business or the employee’s child’s school or place of care due to a public health emergency (as defined by the law), requiring the employee to care for the child.
Under the amended law, employees may also take accrued paid leave for the following reasons:
- to grieve, attend funeral services or a memorial, or deal with financial and legal matters that arise after the death of a family member;
- to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected events; or
- to evacuate the employee’s place of residence due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected events.
Employers were also obligated to provide supplemental public health emergency leave in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as previously discussed, this obligation expires on June 9, 2023.
When the new law takes effect on August 7, 2023, employees will be able to use accrued sick pay for these additional reasons. Colorado employers must also notify employees of their right to take paid leave under the HFWA, including the reasons for which employees can take such leave. For that reason, Colorado employers should consider updating their sick leave policies to set forth the new grounds for which employees may take leave and to update their sick leave poster on or before the effective date of the new law. Colorado is expected to publish an updated poster regarding these changes to the HFWA in the coming months.