Colorado’s Leave Laws
Colorado employers must comply with the state’s leave laws in addition to the federal FMLA, which covers all employers with 50 or more employees.
All Colorado employers, both public and private, must provide limited paid leave to workers called for jury duty and must allow time off for workers to vote. Additionally, state employees are entitled to family and medical leave as well as paid leave for organ donation and disaster services work.
Family and medical leave
Colorado’s Family and Medical Leave Act applies to all state employees (regardless of the size of their governmental unit) but not to employees of private businesses.
The state law is similar to the federal FMLA but has some key differences. While the FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the state law measures leave in hours rather than weeks. A full-time employee with one year’s experience may take 520 hours of leave for the birth or adoption of a child, the employee’s own serious health condition or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
Temporary employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year to qualify for leave. Part-time employees are entitled to a prorated portion of full-time leave based on the average number of hours they worked during the preceding year.
In Colorado, it’s illegal for employers to punish employees when they’re summoned for jury duty. In fact, employers must pay employees up to $50 per day for the first three days of grand or petit jury duty. (For part-time workers, the hours are determined by their regular schedule over the previous three months.)
Employers are entitled to prior notice, although the law is silent on how early an employee must inform you of a jury summons. That’s why it’s a good idea to include jury and witness leave in your company handbook to clarify when and how employees should give notice.
Caution: Don’t even think about punishing an employee who is summoned as a witness in court. That’s a criminal misdemeanor, which could mean jail time.
Colorado employees of voting age are entitled to two hours of paid leave to vote on every Election Day. However, employees whose shifts begin more than three hours after the polls open or end more than three hours before the polls close are not entitled to the paid time off.
Organ donation leave
State employees may take up to two days of paid leave per year to donate organs or bone marrow for transplants. They can use the leave on an as-needed basis but may not accumulate the time off.
Disaster services leave
State employees who are also American Red Cross-certified disaster services workers may take up to five days of paid leave each year to help with disasters in Colorado. (They may take 15 days for disaster work outside the state.)
As with organ donation leave, they may not accumulate time off for disaster services work.