Colorado Passes Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 10, 2020

Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative on November 3 to establish a state paid medical and family leave program. Colorado Proposition 118, the Paid Medical and Family Leave (PMFL) Initiative, was approved with 57.4% of the vote. Colorado joins the following jurisdictions in passing a paid family and medical leave program:

  • California;
  • Connecticut;
  • District of Columbia;
  • Massachusetts;
  • New Jersey;
  • New York;
  • Oregon;
  • Rhode Island; and
  • Washington.

Colorado also is the first state to create such a program through the initiative process.

Under the new law, beginning on January 1, 2024, a covered employer must provide 12 weeks of paid leave to eligible employees. Up to four additional weeks are available for a serious health condition related to pregnancy or childbirth complications.

Employees will be paid a maximum benefit of $1,100 per week, based as a percentage of their pay from 37% to 90%. The program will be funded through a payroll tax paid one-half each by employers and employees beginning in 2023.

To be eligible for paid leave, an employee must:

  • Have worked at least 180 days; and
  • Have earned $2,500 in wages that were subject to PMFL premiums.

PMFL leave is available for an eligible employee who:

  • Has a serious health condition,
  • Is caring for a new child or for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Has a need for leave related to a family member's military deployment; or
  • Has a need for safe leave (e.g., due to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual abuse).

"Family" is defined to include children (including foster and adopted children) without regard to age, spouses and domestic partners, parents (including persons who stood in for parents), siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.

Employees who take PMFL leave are entitled to return to their same position or a position with the same pay, benefits, and seniority or status.

Employers must post a notice of the program in a prominent location in the workplace, as well as providing information in writing when an employee is hired and upon learning that an employee has experienced a triggering event that would qualify them for paid leave. Employers are prohibited from taking disciplinary or retaliatory actions against employees for requesting or using paid leave, and must continue to provide employee health benefits during their leave.