New Changes to Employment Practices

In 2023, the Colorado legislature made additional changes to the preexisting programs listed in this article and created new statutory employment protections.

This article overviews these policy changes in order to provide information to CSD Pool members; however, this information is not a substitute for legal advice. The CSD Pool encourages its members to work with their human resource colleagues or legal counsel on questions related to these topics.

1. Colorado’s Paid Leave Law

SB20-205, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”) requires that employers provide at least 48 hours of paid leave to employees regardless of type or status (not just full-time employees, for example). For SB20-205, employers had to implement the statutorily required paid leavy by Jan 1, 2021 (for 16+ employees) or Jan 1, 2022 (for 15 or fewer employees).

SB 23-017 expands HFWA by requiring employers to allow paid sick leave for bereavement leave or to care for a family member whose school, daycare, or similar facility is closed due to inclement weather. Employers must incorporate these additional circumstances for which employees may use paid leave by August 7, 2023.

Related update: as of June 8, 2023, the statutorily required HFWA paid leave during the COVID-19 public health emergency is no longer in effect. However, please note that this public health leave may be required if future emergency orders are put in place.

2. Colorado Equal Pay Act

SB 19-085, or the Colorado Equal Pay Act, was introduced to help address the gender-based pay disparities in Colorado and took effect for all employers on January 1, 2021.

This year’s bill, SB 23-105, amends the Equal Pay Act by providing investigative and enforcement authority to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment regarding complaints alleging violations of state pay equity laws. SB23-105 also specifies the following procedures as statutory requirements: when job or promotional opportunities must be posted; what information must be provided to employees when a candidate is selected; and that objectively defined career progressions need not be posted, so long as the terms and how to access such advancement are disclosed to employees. Employers must implement these amendments to the Equal Pay Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2024.

3. Family Medical Leave Insurance Program

At the November 2020 statewide general election, voters approved Proposition 118, a statutory change to Colorado’s laws which created a paid Family Medical Leave Insurance program (FAMLI). FAMLI requires employers and employees to pay payroll premiums, starting January 1, 2023, to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of paid FAMLI leave beginning January 1, 2024. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the new Colorado FAMLI requirement applies to employers of any size with the following exceptions: (1) employers may apply to the Division of Family Medical Leave Insurance to provide leave through a private plan that meets the requirements of FAMLI; or (2) local governments, including special districts, may decline to participate (the “Local Government Opt-Out”).

For those special districts that are participating in the FAMLI program, please note that SB 23-046 expanded an employee’s FAMLI benefits by including all jobs that the employee worked in the base period, instead of only the jobs from which the employee is taking leave.

4. Job Application Fairness Act

SB 23-058 creates the Job Application Fairness Act, taking effect on August 7, 2023, which prohibits employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s age, date of birth, and dates of attendance at or date of graduation from an educational institution on an initial employment application.

5. Public Employees’ Workplace Protection

SB 23-111 establishes the Protections for Public Workers Act. Starting July 1, 2024, new state statutory rights are granted to public employees of certain state and local government employers, including special districts. These protections include discussing or expressing views regarding public employee representation or workplace issues.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has rulemaking, enforcement, and adjudication authority. The Governor’s signing statement recognized the concerns expressed by local governments during the legislative session about SB23-111 and directed the Department to include provisions to: ensure that public services are not impaired, that obligations of public employers are not impaired, and that protections are not contrary to the job duties; articulate time, place and manner of protected activities and permissible bases for discipline or adverse action; and recognize that governing bodies must be able to maintain a relationship of trust with their executive leadership and that public employees can be expected to maintain professional relationships.

6. Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (“POWR”) Act

SB 23-172 amends the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”) by adding an updated definition of “harassment” and to reject the severe or pervasive standard used to determine an employer’s liability. SB 23-172 establishes statutory requirements for the provisions of a nondisclosure agreement to be enforceable and provides employer penalties for violations. Finally, the bill requires an employer to maintain personnel and employment records for at least five (5) years and to keep records of discriminatory or unfair employment practices in a designated repository. The POWR Act takes effect on August 7, 2023.

These new laws take time, care, attention – and sometimes new resources – to implement. Your district is not alone in facing these challenges as you comply with these laws and implement the new ones that are coming up on the horizon.

Don’t forget that there are resources we offer as a member benefit:

1) CSD Pool HR Helpline has prepaid Legal services via phone or email conferring with a dedicated legal expert through the HR Helpline or
2) utilizing ten (10) hours of consultation with CPS-HR.