As Economy Reopens, Colorado Paid Sick Leave Expands

By Brooke A. Colaizzi

On the heels of Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ “Safer-At-Home,” Order designed to begin the opening of the Colorado economy, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment amended the Colorado Health Emergency Leave With Pay (“HELP”) Rules to increase the paid sick leave available to employees in certain industries suffering or possibly suffering from COVID-19, and expanded the number of covered industries.

The most recent amendment increased the available paid sick leave from four days to two weeks (80 hours). The leave is available to employees in certain industries who are suffering flu-like or respiratory illness symptoms and are either being tested for COVID-19 or are under a quarantine or isolation order from a healthcare provider or an authorized government official. The most recent amendment added coverage for employees in non-essential retail; real estate; office; elective medical, dental, and health services; and personal care services (e.g. hair salons) industries. An employer must provide the sick leave if its regular sick leave or other leave programs do not provide the required amount of leave.

The amendment also clarified that an employee’s eligibility for paid sick leave terminates after the employee receives a negative COVID-19 test, provided the employee has been fever-free for 72 hours and other symptoms have resolved as well. However, in no case will eligibility end before the employee has been away from work for at least seven days. Employees can be required to provide their employers with basic documentation of the need for leave, but employers can delay or prematurely end leave due to a lack of documentation.

The amendment adds another obligation for Colorado employers, atop the significant requirements that federal, state, and local governments have imposed during the pandemic. Sherman & Howard’s Labor & Employment attorneys are available to help you navigate these complicated requirements.