As we delve into the latest employment updates from the state of Colorado, it is crucial for business owners to stay informed about the changes that may impact their operations. In this blog post, we will review key aspects of the 2024 Colorado Employment Update, providing comprehensive information regarding new regulations and laws affecting employers and employees alike. Let’s explore five critical areas that require your attention:
- Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI)
- Update of Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA)
- Update of Healthy Families & Workplace Act (HFWA)
- Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (POWR)
- Job Application Fairness Act (JAFA)
Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI):
One of the significant highlights of the 2024 Colorado Employment Update is the introduction of the Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. FAMLI is a state-run initiative designed to provide employees with paid leave for various life events. To be eligible for FAMLI, employees must have earned at least $2,500 in wages in a year within the state of Colorado. It is worth noting that FAMLI is designed to run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), providing additional support to employees in need. Both employers and employees contribute to funding the FAMLI program, with premiums set at 0.9% of the employee’s wage, divided equally between the employer and the employee until 2025.
Under the FAMLI program, employees can avail themselves of leave for several reasons, including:
- Caring for a new child during the first year after birth, adoption, or foster placement.
- Providing care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Attending to one’s own serious health condition.
- Making arrangements for the military deployment of a family member.
- Securing safe housing, care, and/or legal assistance in response to intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse.
Paid family and medical leave under the FAMLI program will be available to most Colorado workers, given they meet the following requirements:
- Earnings: Employees must have earned $2,500 or more in the previous year from work performed in Colorado.
- Employment Time: There is no minimum duration of employment required to qualify for FAMLI leave.
- Leave Duration: Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave per year.
- Additional Leave for Complications: Those experiencing serious health conditions due to pregnancy or childbirth complications may be entitled to an extra four weeks of paid leave.
- Leave Flexibility: FAMLI leave can be taken continuously, intermittently, or in the form of a reduced work schedule, providing necessary flexibility for employees.
FAMLI Benefit Amounts:
The benefit payment under the FAMLI program is calculated based on a sliding scale. Important details to consider include:
- Average Weekly Wage: The average weekly wage from the previous five calendar quarters is used to determine the benefit payment.
- Colorado’s Average Weekly Wage: Currently, the average weekly wage in Colorado stands at $1,421.16.
- Benefit Percentage: Individuals making ≤$710.58 per week, on average, are eligible for a benefit payment equal to 90% of their wages. Whereas individuals earning more than $710.58 per week may receive a benefit payment equal to 50% of their wages.
- Benefit Cap: Benefits are capped at a maximum of $1,100 per week.
Update of Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA)
The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA), also known as the EPEWA law, was signed into Colorado law in July 2019 and became effective on January 1, 2021. This act provides new protections against wage discrimination and aims to prevent pay disparities.
The main objective of the EPEWA is to ensure that employees who perform similar work are paid equally, regardless of their sex, including gender identity. By doing so, it promotes fair treatment and equal opportunities in the workplace. Moreover, the act also facilitates transparency in terms of pay and promotions.
As of January 1, 2024, the EPEWA has added amendments that all employers must abide by. One significant amendment involves employers posting any “job opportunity” within the company to current employees. This includes any current or anticipated vacancy that the employer is considering or interviewing candidates for, as well as vacancies externally posted. However, it is important to note that “job opportunity” does not cover “career development” or “career progression.”
In addition to these amendments, the EPEWA has introduced new exceptions. Career progression refers to upward mobility within an organization based on time spent in a specific role or other objective metrics. On the other hand, career development encompasses changes made to employees’ compensation terms, benefits, full-time/part-time status, duties, or changes in title or compensation reflecting past performance.
To ensure fairness and transparency, employers are obligated to make reasonable efforts to notify all current employees of all promotional opportunities before making a final decision. Moreover, the EPEWA has specific notice requirements that employers must adhere to. The notice must include the wage and/or salary range, an overall description of other compensation and benefits, as well as the closing date of the application window.
After a candidate selection has been made, employers are required to provide notice to the employees with whom the selected candidate is expected to work within 30 days. This notice should include the name of the selected candidate, their former title (if hired internally), their new job title, and information on how other employees can express interest in similar opportunities in the future.
In order to comply with the EPEWA, employers must also maintain accurate and up-to-date recordkeeping of relevant information related to the act.
EPEWA in Colorado mandates certain recordkeeping obligations for employers. By understanding and adhering to these requirements, employers can ensure compliance and avoid potential consequences.
To maintain compliance with EPEWA, employers must keep the following records for the duration of an employee’s employment plus an additional two years after their departure:
- Employee’s Job Description: Employers are required to maintain an accurate record of each employee’s job description. This record helps demonstrate that employees are performing substantially similar work, an important factor for assessing pay equity.
- Compensation Details: Employers must record detailed information about employee compensation, including salary or hourly wage, benefits, and any additional forms of compensation such as bonuses, commissions, or other awards. This information is crucial for assessing pay equity and ensuring fair compensation practices across the workforce.
- Changes to Job Description or Compensation: Any changes made to an employee’s job description or compensation overtime must be documented. Employers need to maintain a record of these changes to ensure transparency and accountability in their employment practices.
For employers with employees in multiple states, it is important to note that the EPEWA record keeping obligations apply only to employees in Colorado. Therefore, records related to job descriptions and compensation for employees in other states do not fall under the requirements of EPEWA.
Failure to adhere to the record keeping obligations outlined by EPEWA can result in significant consequences for employers. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has the authority to enforce compliance with the law and may impose fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 for each violation.
In anticipation of the revised law’s effective date of January 1, 2024, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is expected to issue new rules to guide employers on the implementation of EPEWA. Employers should stay updated on any new rules or guidelines to ensure compliance with this important legislation.
Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA)
The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) has ushered in significant changes for employers in Colorado. Since January 1, 2022, all employers in the state, irrespective of their size or industry, are subject to HFWA. This comprehensive legislation aims to prioritize the well-being of employees by mandating certain provisions for paid sick leave including a minimum of 48 hours for full-time employees which can now be used for additional reasons, including bereavement and unexpected events. Here we will delve into the key aspects of the updates to HFWA which took effect on August 7, 2023 and shed light on the implications for both employers and employees.
HFWA Updates Effective August 7, 2023:
- Bereavement Leave:
Employees will be entitled to additional paid leave to manage bereavement or attend to financial and legal matters after the death of a family member. This provision acknowledges the need for employees to cope with personal loss and ease the associated responsibilities.
- Unexpected Events Leave:
HFWA recognizes that unforeseen circumstances like inclement weather, power/heat/water loss, or other emergency situations can impact an employee’s ability to work or require them to care for their family members. In such cases, employees will be eligible for paid leave if they need to evacuate their residence or if their child’s school or place of care is closed during these events.
Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (POWR): A Closer Look
Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (POWR) is important legislation that introduces significant changes to promote a fair and inclusive work environment. This article provides an overview of the key provisions of POWR and their implications for employers and employees alike.
One of the notable changes brought by POWR is the broadening of the definition of harassment. Conduct that is “subjectively offensive to the individual alleging harassment and is objectively offensive to a reasonable individual who is a member of the same protected class” will now be considered harassment. This expanded definition ensures that a wider range of offensive behaviors are acknowledged and addressed.
Another crucial aspect addressed by POWR is affirmative defenses. If an employee proves harassment by a supervisor, the employer can no longer rely on an affirmative defense unless they have implemented a robust program to prevent and address harassment. Prompt and reasonable actions to investigate or address alleged discriminatory practices, as well as remedial actions when necessary, are required. Effective communication of the program to both supervisory and non-supervisory employees is also essential.
POWR also imposes limitations on the use of non-disclosure provisions in employment agreements. In order for a non-disclosure provision to be valid, it must apply equally to all parties involved, explicitly allow for the disclosure of underlying facts, and be unenforceable if the employer publicly disparages the employee. Liquidated damages provisions must be reasonable and not punitive. The inclusion of an addendum, signed by all parties, confirming compliance is also necessary.
Marital status is now considered a protected class under POWR. This means that employers are prohibited from taking any adverse actions against an employee based on their marital status. This provision aims to ensure equal treatment and opportunities for employees, regardless of their marital status.
Lastly, POWR introduces new record-keeping requirements for employers. From August 7, 2023, employers are mandated to retain “any personnel or employment record” for a minimum of five years. Complaints of discriminatory or unfair employment practices must be stored in a designated repository. These requirements apply to both written and oral records and should include the date of the complaint and the identity of the complaining party if known.
Job Application Fairness Act (JAFA)
The Job Application Fairness Act (JAFA) is an important piece of legislation that aims to protect job applicants from age discrimination during the hiring process. Under this act, employers are prohibited from inquiring about a candidate’s age, date of birth, or dates of attendance at or graduation from an educational institution.
However, there are certain exceptions to JAFA. Employers are allowed to ask candidates to confirm whether they meet specific age restrictions that are imposed by federal, state, or local law.
It is crucial for employers to understand the consequences of violating JAFA. Upon the first violation, employers will receive a warning and are required to comply with the act within 15 business days. Failure to comply or committing a second violation may result in a penalty of up to $1,000 imposed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). Furthermore, a third violation raises the penalty up to $2,500. It is important to note that each distinct job posting that violates JAFA is considered a separate violation.
In this blog post, we’ve delved into Colorado’s recent labor policy reforms, highlighting five key updates that are reshaping the state’s employment landscape. From the introduction of Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) to the commitment to gender pay equity under the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA), the focus on worker health and well-being through the Healthy Families & Workplace Act (HFWA), and the emphasis on workers’ rights protection and job application fairness through POWR and JAFA, Colorado is taking significant steps toward creating a fair, inclusive, and supportive work environment. These policies are not just about legislation; they represent a promise to prioritize workers’ needs and create a more equitable and prosperous workforce in the Centennial State.