Colorado Required Sick Leave - 48 Hours

Colorado Required Sick Leave - 48 Hours

The Healthy Families and Workplace Act (HWFA) – Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)

48 hours of paid leave for Colorado employees

In response to the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplace Act (HWFA) was signed on July 14, 2020. 


Published by (12/27/20):

“Starting January 1, 2021, for employers with 16 or more employees, and starting January 1, 2022, for all employers, the act requires employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, accrued at one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year.

An employee begins accruing paid sick leave when the employee's employment begins, may use paid sick leave as it is accrued, and may carry forward and use in subsequent calendar years up to 48 hours of paid sick leave that is not used in the year in which it is accrued. An employer is not required to allow the employee to use more than 48 hours of paid sick leave in a year.

Employees may use accrued paid sick leave to be absent from work for the following purposes:

  • The employee has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
  • The employee needs to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
  • The employee or family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment and needs to be absent from work for purposes related to such crime; or
  • A public official has ordered the closure of the school or place of care of the employee's child or of the employee's place of business due to a public health emergency, necessitating the employee's absence from work.

In addition to the paid sick leave accrued by an employee, the act requires an employer, regardless of size, to provide its employees an additional amount of paid sick leave during a public health emergency in an amount based on the number of hours the employee works.”

Published by National Law Review (7/16/20):

“Employee Eligibility

Employees immediately begin to accrue paid sick leave upon hire and may use sick leave as soon as it is accrued.

How Employees Accrue Paid Sick Leave

Each employee earns at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours the employee works, up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year, unless the employer selects a higher limit.

An employer may satisfy the accrual requirements of the HFWA by providing the employee with an amount of paid sick leave that meets or exceeds the requirements of the HFWA at the beginning of the year.

Exempt employees who work less than a 40-hour workweek accrue paid sick leave based on the number of hours that comprise the employee’s normal workweek.

Taking Paid Sick Leave

Employees must take paid sick leave in one-hour increments, unless the employer permits employees to take leave in smaller increments. Employers may loan paid sick leave to an employee who has not yet accrued it.

Employers may not require, as a condition of taking paid sick leave, that the employee search for and find a replacement worker to cover the employee’s paid sick leave.

Requests for accrued paid sick leave must be made orally, in writing, electronically, or by any other means acceptable to the employer. When possible, the employee must include the expected duration of the absence. An employer may adopt a written policy that contains reasonable procedures for the employee to provide notice when the use of paid sick leave taken under the HFWA is foreseeable; however, an employer cannot deny paid sick leave to the employee based on noncompliance with such a policy. When the leave is foreseeable, employees should make a good faith effort to provide notice to the employer and make a reasonable effort to schedule paid sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt business operations.

Carry Over of Accrued Paid Sick Leave

Employees may carry over up to 48 hours of unused paid sick leave to the following year; however, employers can limit the amount of leave an employee may take in any year to 48 hours.

Paid Sick Leave at Separation

The HFWA does not create an obligation for employers to pay out unused, accrued paid sick leave at separation, regardless of the reason for separation.

However, an individual may recover paid sick leave as a remedy for a retaliatory personnel action that prevented the individual from using paid sick leave.

Additionally, if an employer rehires a separated employee within six months of that employee’s separation, the employer must reinstate any unused, accrued paid sick leave the employee had during the employee’s previous employment.


Employers must retain records for each employee for a two-year period, documenting hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, and paid sick leave used.Notice to Employees

Notice to Employees

Employers must notify its employees, in writing, that they are entitled to paid sick leave, in accordance with the rules that will be promulgated by the Division. Employers must immediately post the Colorado Workplace Public Health Rights Poster and distribute to employees the Division’s Interpretive Notice & Formal Opinion #6A. Employers also must provide notices and posters in any language that is the first language spoken by at least five percent of its workforce.

Additional posters and notices will be made available to employers to comply with these notice requirements for 2021.”

Additional Resources:

Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

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