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Paid Sick Leave - HFWA for Colorado and Executive Orders

Wow! What a year, am I right? So many changes, so many new regulations, it is truly hard to keep track. For that reason, we thought we would dive into some of the new legislation and provide some updates. Some things are clear, some not so much. Either way, as HR professionals, we want to understand changes to the best of our ability. So without further delay, let's dive in.

Healthy Families Workplace Act

The new Healthy Families and Workplace Act (“Act”) requires all private employers in Colorado to provide three types of paid sick leave to their Colorado employees:

  1. COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave

  2. paid sick and safe time

  3. public health emergency paid sick leave.

Stage 1: HFWA’s immediate requirements (pandemic sick leave)

  • Effective immediately, all employers, irrespective of size, must

  • Offer leave that mirrors the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave currently required for coronavirus purposes.

  • Leave available is up to 80 paid hours at full pay or 2/3 pay depending on the reason for leave.

  • Regardless of size means that employers not mandated by the Federal law (over 500 Employees) will now be required to offer until the end of the year.

  • No tax credits - for employers qualifying under FFCRA leave, tax credits may still be applied. However, large employers (500 or more employees) will not have the tax credit benefit of providing this leave. 

  • Process for requesting leave

  • Similar requirements to the FFCRA, with some additional leniency

  • However, the HFWA explicitly states that an employee’s failure to provide documentation or advance notice is generally not grounds for denying the leave.  “Documentation is not required to take paid sick leave, but can be required as soon as the employee reasonably can provide it”.

  • Notice can be verbally given and must provide only enough information for an employer to determine whether the leave is for an HWFA purpose.

  • An employee’s representative (e.g., spouse, adult family member, or other responsible parties) may provide the notice if the employee cannot do so personally.

  • If notice is not given, the employee must be notified and allowed an opportunity to provide requested notification

  • Compliance

  • Existing leave policies can comply if they otherwise meet or exceed the HFWA’s requirements.

  • Posters

  • Post the required poster (Spanish available), and will need to be posted in any language that is the first language spoken by 5% of the workers.

  • Notify workers of their HFWA rights by the distribution of the poster and/or INFO 5, 6A, and 6B).

Stage 2: HFWA’s 1/1/2021 requirements

New requirements - Effective 1/1/2021, for companies with more than 15 employees (all employers by 1/1/2022):

The HFWA’s (and FFCRA’s) pandemic sick leave requirements will have ended. Instead, an employer will be required to offer at least 48 hours (for hourly) and 6 days for salaried workers of sick leave for when employees experience the following:

  1. having a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents them from working;

  2. needing to get preventive medical care, or to get a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;

  3. needing to 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 category (2);

  4. the employee or the employee’s family member has been a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment, and needing leave for related medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, victim services (including legal services), or relocation; or

  5. due to a public health emergency, a public official having closed either (A) the employee’s place of business, or (B) the school or place of care of the employee’s child, requiring the employee needing to be absent from work to care for the child.

  • Leave perimeters

  • to accrue at least at the rate of 1 hour per every 30 hours worked.

  • can be capped at 48 hours per year.

  • must be allowed to roll-over year-to-year

  • allowed for hourly and salaried employees, (FT and PT), with accruals starting on the date of hire.

  • documentation may only be required when the absence is of 4 or more days

  • PT Employees -

  • Leave for a part-time employee with a regular schedule is at the number of hours normally worked in a two-week period.

  • If an employee’s hours vary, the employer must use their average hours over the six months before the leave begins.

  • If the varied-schedule part-timer was employed less than six months, the employer must use the number of hours the employee agreed to work when hired, or if no such agreement exists, the average daily hours the employee was scheduled to work over their entire employment.

  • Note: Existing leave policies can comply if they otherwise meet or exceed the HFWA’s requirements.

  • PTO policies - HFWA requirement is met so long as the full complement of PTO exceeds such amounts.

  • Further Pandemic response requirements

  • provide for at least 80 hours of sick leave in the event of another public health emergency.

  • HFWA leave requirements may be supplemented to cover the 80-hours of pandemic leave.

  • Exceptions

  • No paid leave required if an entire business is completely closed (permanently or temporarily).

Things to Consider:

Even though the HFWA applies to employers with 16 or more employees to start, all employers with Colorado employees should begin working towards compliance, as they will be covered starting January 1, 2022.  Take the time now, contact your payroll providers to make sure they can accommodate the accrual methods needed to comply with HFWA, contact HRx to update your handbook, and start now communicating this change with employees! 

Executive Orders - Signed on August 8th

In order to provide additional relief to workers during the COVID pandemic, President Trump issues executive orders to:

  • suspend Social Security Tax collections from employees

  • available to employees whose wages during any bi-weekly pay period is less than $4000 (or equivalent based on different pay period structures).

  • deferred amounts shall be deferred without any penalties, interest, additional amount, or addition to the tax.

  • should be noted at this time that the taxes will still be due at a future date determined by the treasury.

  • expand unemployment benefits

  • Starting 8/1/2020 extends unemployment benefits by $400 per week from previous unemployment benefits ending 7/31/2020.

  • suspend student loan payments expanding relief from the CARES Act through to 12/31/2020.

For more information on these executive orders, review the Whitehouse Actions webpage.

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