Colorado and the Federal Government have ended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced that the most recent extension of the federal Public Health Emergency (“PHE”) declaration related to COVID-19 would terminate in May. As anticipated, the order terminated on May 11, 2023. Colorado’s COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Order ended on April 27, 2023. As such, both federal and state declared public health emergencies are terminated.
The end of the COVID PHE is a remarkable occasion for Colorado employers. Under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”), Colorado employers were required to provide up to 80 hours or two weeks of supplemental paid leave for COVID-related reasons during the COVID PHE. While employers were only required to supplement their employees’ accrued unused paid sick leave in the amount required to meet the 80-hour/two-week threshold, the burden to do so was potentially significant depending on the amount of leave an employee had accrued at the time they required time off for COVID-related reasons.
Employers still must provide the supplemental PHE leave for four weeks beyond termination of the PHE, or through June 8, 2023. After June 8th, employers will no longer be required to provide supplemental paid time off for COVID-related matters.
The end of the PHE signifies the end of this requirement on employers (at least until another qualifying PHE is announced). However, as a reminder employers must continue to provide paid sick leave for any HWFA-qualifying reason. The regular paid sick leave must be accrued at a minimum of one hour paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours paid leave per calendar year, subject to carryover. Paid sick leave can be used for any illness or medical condition, including COVID, but must only be given pursuant to the amount actually earned and accrued by the employee pursuant to the employer’s policies or other agreement.
HFWA qualifying reasons include mental or physical illness or injury, caring for one’s family member (broadly defined by the HFWA), and for any school or childcare closures or for reasons relating to domestic abuse. In addition, pursuant to Colorado SB 23-17 (effective August 6, 2023) here are three new qualifying reasons permitted under HFWA: (i) the employee needs to grieve, attend funeral services or a memorial, or deal with financial and legal matters after the death of a family member; (ii) the employee needs 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 event that results in the closure of the family member’s school or place of care; or (iii) the employee needs to evacuate the employee’s place of residence due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected event.
As other paid leave laws swing into focus, including the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (“FAMLI”) program, we will continue updating clients on the requirements and obligations to provide paid leave for their employees. If you have any questions about these laws, consult an attorney or reach out to Ireland Stapleton attorneys Michelle Ferguson (email@example.com) and Jenn Kinkade (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What is written here is for general information only and should not be taken as legal advice. If legal advice is needed, please consult an attorney.