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American Rescue Plan Act extends and expands federal tax credits available for coronavirus-related leave

SHRM recently published an article summarizing ARPA (the American Rescue Plan Act). In short, employers with fewer than 500 employees currently may but are not required by federal law (compare for example state laws such as in Colorado) to provide paid leave for certain coronavirus-related reasons and, if such an employer does chose to provide such leave, it may pass through costs to the federal government. Those rules expired first December 31, 2020, then were extended through March 31, 202. Now according to ARPA, the ability for an employer to pass-through covered costs has been extended through September 30, 2021. ARPA not only extends the period when costs can be passed through to the federal government, but expands the reasons for which such leave may be granted to, now, include time off to be vaccinated and time off while waiting for the results of an employer-mandated covid-19 test. Employers are encouraged to contact their tax professionals for further information.

Seventh Circuit holds that employers may have to provide paid USERRA leave if it provides pay for other comparable leaves

USERRA is the federal military leave law that requires employers to provide workers time-off for military-related leaves. USERRA leave is generally unpaid. However USERRA, sec. 4316(b),  provides that employees must receive “such other rights and benefits not determined by seniority as are generally provided by the employer of the person to employees having similar seniority, status, and pay who are on furlough or leave of absence under a contract, agreement, policy, practice, or plan in effect at the commencement of such or established while such person performs such service.”

The Seventh Circuit recently held in a case involving United Airlines that sec. 4316(b)’s “other rights and benefits” language includes “comparable” paid leave. The Seventh Circuit looked to DOL regulations, 20 CFR 1002.150(b), that explain paid leave is “comparable” and must be provided to USERRA leave-takers if is is comparable in terms of “the duration of the leave,” as well as “the purpose of the leave and the ability of the employee to choose when to take the leave.” However, it cautioned as to the last factor — the ability to schedule leave — an employee’s voluntary decision to enlist should not be considered.

Did United Airlines owe its pilot pay for time he took off for “periodic military-training sessions” under its jury duty policy, its sick leave policy or any of its “other short-term” paid leave policies? The Seventh Circuit held it did not have sufficient evidence to weight the comparability of such leaves; therefore, it remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration.

Source: White v. United Airlines, Inc., — F.3d —, 2021 WL 365210 (7th Cir. 2/3/2021)

CDLE issues more new information for Colorado employers

Implementing its most recent batch of rules on a variety of topics, the CDLE just issued yet more information for Colorado employers on those topics.

Are your ready for January 1, 2021?

  • Looking for more information about the CDLE’s latest batch of rules?

Join us for a complimentary, engaging and interactive webinar.

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When: Wednesday, December 16, 2020 Noon 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada) 

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Where to find the CDLE’s latest information

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s latest information is available at its website.

As noted in recent posts on this blog, look for the CDLE’s latest rules on its Rulemaking page, to include the following rules:

  • Colorado Overtime And Minimum Pay Standards (“Comps”) Order #37, 7 CCR 1103-1;
  • Wage Protection Rules, 7 CCR 1103-7;
  • Direct Investigations Rules, 7 CCR 1103-8;
  • Colorado Whistleblower, Anti-Retaliation, Non-Interference, And Notice-Giving (“Colorado Warning”) Rules, 7 CCR 1103-11;
  • Colorado State Labor Relations Rules, 7 CCR 1103-12; And
  • Equal Pay Transparency Rules, 7 CCR 1103-13.

Look for its latest posters on the CDLE’s Poster page (the following list is quoted from CDLE)

  • The “Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards” (“COMPS”) poster and notice, covering wage and hour law — see COMPS Rule 7.4, Posting and Distribution Requirements, unchanged from the 2020 COMPS Order, which requires employers to display the annually revised poster (and send it to off-site employees), plus include either the poster or COMPS itself in any handbook or manual the employer has.
  • The “Colorado Workplace Public Health Rights Poster: Paid Leave, Whistleblowing, & Protective Equipment” poster and notice, covering HFWA and PHEW since their enactment in July 2020 — see Colorado WARNING Rule 4, Notice and Posting Rights and Responsibilities, unchanged from the temporary WARNING Rules in effect since September 21, 2020, which requires employers to post and give employees notice of these rights.
  • Translations of posters and INFOs — to implement requirements for employers to provide posters and notices to non-English-fluent workers, DLSS in 2020 posted translations of its posters in 12 languages and Spanish translations of INFOs (on the same pages as the English posters and INFOs), with new translations of the 2021-updated posters to be posted later this month, and translations of INFOs coming thereafter.
  • With translations into Spanish and other language.

Look for informational summaries on the CDLE’s INFO page, where the CDLE provides the following information summaries (again quoting the CDLE):

  • INFO# 1: Colorado Overtime &, Minimum Pay Standards Order (COMPS Order) #37 [In Spanish:Hoja Informativa y Opinión Formal (INFO por sus siglas en inglés) # 1: Orden de COMPS #37] (Próximamente)
  • INFO# 2:DLSS Wage Claim Investigation Process
  • INFO# 3: Tips (Gratuities) and Tipped Employees Under Colorado Wage Law
  • INFO# 4: Meal and Rest Period
  • INFO# 5: Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Rights [In Spanish:Hoja Informativa y Opinión Formal (INFO por sus siglas en inglés) # 5: Ley de Protección al Denunciante de Emergencias de Salud Pública] (Próximamente)
  • INFO# 6A: Paid Leave Under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, through December 31, 2020 [In Spanish:Hoja Informativa y Opinión Formal (INFO por sus siglas en inglés) # 6A: Pago por Ausencia Laboral bajo el Acta de Familias y Lugares de Trabajos Saludables, vigente hasta el 31 de diciembre, 2020]
  • INFO# 6B: Paid Leave Under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, as of January 1, 2021 [In Spanish:Hoja Informativa y Opinión Formal (INFO por sus siglas en inglés) # 6B: Pago por Ausencia Laboral bajo el Acta de Familias y Lugares de Trabajos Saludables, a partir de 1º de enero] (Próximamente)
  • INFO# 7: Payment of Wages & Required Record-Keeping
  • INFO #8: Colorado Chance to Compete Act (“Ban the Box”)

The CDLE also invites interested individuals to sign up for the agency’s email alerts.

Highlights from the CDLE’s latest information

In recent posts, this blog has summarized a number of the CDLE’s latest rules. Some of the highlights from this most recent information just posted by the CDLE implementing its new rules includes the following:

  • INFO #1: The new hourly minimum wage in Colorado will be $12.32. The new minimum guaranteed salary for exempt workers will be $40,500.
    • Employers are reminded they must distribute a copy of the COMPS poster or the entire COMPS Order 37 (new for this year) with any policies/handbooks that are being distributed otherwise. Signatures must be obtained.
  • INFO #4: The CDLE has taken a strict approach to meals and rest periods, summarized in INFO #4.
    • Employers are responsible for not only “authorizing” workers to take breaks, but they must “permit” them to do so, and CDLE explains a rest break is “authorized” if the company has an adequate policy for example, but even if “authorized,” it is not “permitted” if the employee is “unable or discouraged” to take the break. Evidence that the employee is not “permitted” to take a break may simply be the employee’s own statement that they “felt pressure from the employer not to take the break.
    • It is the employer’s obligation, not the employee’s, to track and record and keep records of employee breaks. An employer cannot simply say it assumed the breaks were being taken as “authorized” where an employee claims not to have been “permitted” to take the break.
    • When a break is missed, it counts as work time, must be paid as such, even if that triggers daily or weekly overtime.
  • INFO #5: In its rules and now in its INFO implementing Colorado’s new PHEW law (already in effect), the CDLE has take the position that an employer who provides no PPE (mask) in a time of a public health emergency may not prohibit an employee from using an unsafe mask. PHEW allows employers to prohibit employees from using masks that do not meet the company’s requirements, only if — according to the CDLE’s interpretation — the employer has first provided its own mask to the worker. Employers should consider making appropriate disposable masks available in their workforces, so that they can later prohibit inappropriate masks that employees might otherwise wish to wear.
  • INFO #7: The CDLE summarized rules regarding the payment of wages, the establishment of pay periods, payment of final wages at separation, pay statement requirements and recordkeeping requirements.
  • INFO #8: The CDLE explained Colorado’s new ban-the-box law. Companies may not state in job applications or advertisements “that a person with a criminal history may not apply,” nor ask about the person’s criminal history on an application, nor require the applicant to disclose any criminal history on the application. Additionally, the CDLE says this prohibits an employer from stating that background checks will be required. Although an employer may require background checks as part of a conditional offer of employment, that may not be stated in an application or advertisement. The CDLE explains the limited exceptions available where employers are otherwise required by law to inquire into these matters.

CDLE finalizes new rules regarding Colorado’s new paid leave laws

As noted in a prior blog post, the CDLE has finalized a crop of new rules on a variety of topics. This post addresses its Wage Protection Rules, effective January 1, 2021.  The Wage Protection Rules focus on issues related to Colorado’s new paid leave law (HFWA, Health Families and Workplace Act). Highlights of the rules include the following:

  • Rule 2.7.4: How to count employees for the purpose of determining whether a small business is under the 16-employee threshold and may, therefore, qualify for delayed implementation of HFWA’s 48 hour/6 day leave requirements until January 1, 2022.
  • Prefatory Statement and Rule 3.5.4(A)-(B): The requirements for a company’s current paid leave policies to satisfy the HFWA requirement for 48 hours (6 days for salaried employees) of general sick leave, to include the following:
    • The policy must provide for at least HFWA’s required 48 hours (6 days).
    • The policy must allow its leave to be taken for all the same reasons as HFWA. Employers are reminded that HFWA permits leave to be taken for more than just the employee’s illness. As summarized by the CDLE in its INFO 6b, HFWA permits an employee to take this time for any of the following reasons:

(1) having a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents them from working;

(2) needing to get preventive medical care, or to get a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;

(3) needing to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or who needs the sort of care listed in category (2);

(4) the employee or the employee’s family member having been a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment, and needing leave for related medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, victim services (including legal services), or relocation; or

(5) due to a public health emergency, a public official having closed either (A) the employee’s place of business, or (B) the school or place of care of the employee’s child, requiring the employee needing to be absent from work to care for the child.

    • The policy cannot impose stricter conditions on an employee’s ability to accrue, use and be paid leave, nor can it require notice or documentation (see below) not permitted to be required by HFWA.
      • Employers are reminded that HFWA contains a strict formula for minimum accrual rates, though frontloading is also permitted.
      • Employers are also reminded that HFWA does not permit a delay on usage, such as many sick leave policies that commonly now say sick leave may not be used until after, say, the first 90 days of employment.
    • The policy must also confirm that its leave includes HFWA’s required leave and that, therefore, employees will not receive additional HFWA leave if they use the leave (such as PTO) for other reasons first, except the company will supplement their leave banks as needed to grant 80 hours of pandemic leave in the event of a public health emergency.
      • Employers should carefully consider how they word this disclaimer, so that they do not inadvertently interfere with, minimize, or chill an employee’s HFWA rights.
  • Prefatory statement and Rule 3.5.2: HFWA’s requirement that the employee be paid leave on the basis of “the same rate and with the same benefits, including health benefits,” as if he’d worked, includes all compensation missed while on leave, including base pay, overtime, bonuses, and holiday pay, and even premium pay and shift differentials.
  • Prefatory statement and Rule 3.5.3(C): Explanation that, where an employee is eligible for both HFWA’s 48 hours (6 days for salaried employees) of general sick leave and 80 hours  (10 days for salaried employees) of pandemic leave, the employee must be allowed to take the 80 hours of pandemic leave first before exhausting their other paid leave, such as the 48 hours of HFWA leave.
  • Rule 3.5.3(B): When an employee takes intermittent HFWA leave it is generally taken in 6-minute increments, unless the employer specifies a different increment in its policy, up to 1 hour.
  • Rules 3.5.4-3.5.5: The notice and documentation requirements for leave. Employers are reminded that the documentation requirements are not significant and leave generally cannot be denied for lack of documentation of the sort many employers are used to requiring for sick leave. The CDLE explains the ability for employers to require documents, as follows (emphasis added):

An employer may require “reasonable documentation” that leave is for a HFWA-qualifying purpose only if the leave requested or taken is for “four or more consecutive work days,” C.R.S. § 8-13.3-404(6), defined as four consecutive days on which the employee would have ordinarily worked absent the leave-qualifying condition, not four consecutive calendar days. An employer may not require an employee to provide documentation that leave is for a qualifying reason “related to [a] public health emergency” under C.R.S. § 8-13.3-405(3), (4).

(A) When documentation is required, an employer may request only “reasonable” documentation, which is defined as not more documentation than needed to show a HFWA-qualifying reason for leave, as described in subparts (B), (C), and (D) below, and an employer shall not require disclosure of “details” regarding the employee’s or family member’s “health information” or the “domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking” that is the basis for HFWA leave (C.R.S. § 8-13.3-412(1)).

(B) To document leave for a health-related need under C.R.S. § 8-13.3-404(1)(a), (b):

(1) If the employee received any services (including remote services) from a health or social services provider for the HFWA-qualifying condition or need, a document from that provider, indicating a HFWA-qualifying purpose for the leave, will suffice.
(2) An employee who did not receive services from a provider for the HFWA qualifying leave, or who cannot obtain a document from their provider in reasonable time or without added expense, can provide their own writing indicating that they took leave for a HFWA-qualifying purpose.

(C) To document leave for a safety-related need covered by C.R.S. §§ 8-13.3-404(1)(c) (i.e., domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment): A document under subpart (B)(1) (from a health provider or a non-health provider of legal services, shelter services, social work, or other similar services) or an employee writing under (B)(2) will suffice, as will a legal document indicating a safety need that was the reason for the leave (e.g., a restraining order, other court order, or police report).
(D) Submission of documentation to an employer may be provided (1) by any reasonable method, including but not limited to electronic transmission, (2) at any time until whichever is sooner of an employee’s return from leave (or termination of employment, if the employee does not return), (3) without a requirement of the employee’s signature, notarization, or any other particular document format.
(E) Confidentiality of leave-related information and documentation. Any information an employer possesses regarding the health of an employee or the employee’s family member, or regarding domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment affecting an employee or employee’s family member, shall be treated as confidential and may not be disclosed to any other individual except the affected employee, unless the affected employee provides written permission prior to such disclosure. C.R.S. § 8-13.3-412(2)(c). If the information is in writing, it shall be maintained on a separate form and in a separate file from other personnel information, and shall be treated as a confidential medical record by the employer. C.R.S. § 8-13.3-412(2)(a)-(b).

(F) If an employer reasonably deems an employee’s documentation deficient, without imposing a requirement of providing more documentation than HFWA or applicable rules permit, prior to denying leave, the employer must: (1) notify the employee within seven days of either receiving the documentation or the employee’s return to work (or termination of employment, if the employee does not return), and (2) provide the employee the minimum of seven days to cure deficiency after the employee is notified that the employer deems the existing documentation inadequate.

  • Rule 3.5.7 explains an employer’s recordkeeping obligations, including an obligation to keep all records for 2 years.
  • Rule 3.5.7 confirms an employer’s obligation to tell an employee, upon request, how much leave they have accrued and how much they have used. Requests may not be made more often than monthly, except additional requests can be made if there is a possible need for HFWA leave. This information may be communicated to the employee, among other ways, by reflecting such amounts on a pay stub.
    • Employers are cautioned that HFWA and Rule 3.5.7 talk about an employer’s obligation to show accrued and used amounts as if different. It isn’t clear if simply showing the employee’s accrued and unused balance is sufficient. Example compare telling an employee (1) <<This year you accrued 48 hours, of which you have used 8 hours, leaving you 40 hours as of this paycheck>> versus (2) <<You have 40 hours, accrued and unused, as of this paycheck.>>
  • Rule 5.1.4 discusses the CDLE’s authority to issue remedies in the event an administrative claim is filed with it for a violation. These remedies include monetary relief, such as unpaid wages, penalties, and fines, back pay plus either reinstatement or front pay, plus such other amounts as the CDLE finds it is authorized to award.

Employers are reminded that HFWA’s current 80 hours of pandemic leave will expire at the end of 2020. In an informal phone call with the CDLE, this author was advised that the agency believes a declaration effective on or after January 1, 2021 will be required to trigger 80 hours of pandemic leave starting January 1, 2021, in other words, that the current declarations of public health emergencies do not suffice — especially since they predate HFWA’s enactment. In what this author would think is the likely event of future declaration(s) effective on or after January 1, 2021, the CDLE advised that it believes employees will receive a fresh 80 hours at that time; in other words, assume a hypothetical employee has used 71 hours of the current pandemic leave by December 31, 2020, leaving him only 9 hours for this year. A fresh declaration will top his pandemic leave back up to 80 (not 9, nor 9+80=89).

Employers in Colorado should take time to familiarize themselves with these new rules.

CDLE finalizes crop of new rules

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has finalized a half dozen rules on a wide array of topics. Employers should take care to immediately familiarize themselves with these rules, as many take effect January 1, 2021. The rules can be found on the CDLE’s rulemaking page, where the CDLE summarizes its new rules with the following table that contains links to the actual rules themselves:

Adopted Rules Clean Version Redline Version Statement of Basis & Purpose

State Labor Relations Rules, 7 CCR 1103-12

PDF PDF PDF
Colorado Whistleblower, Anti-retaliation, Non-interference, and Notice-giving (Colorado WARNING) Rules, 7 CCR 1103-11 PDF PDF PDF
Direct Investigations Rules, 7 CCR 1103-8 PDF PDF PDF
Equal Pay Transparency Rules, 7 CCR 1103-13 PDF PDF PDF
Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Order #37, 7 CCR 1103-1 PDF PDF PDF
Wage Protection Rules, 7 CCR 1103-7 PDF PDF PDF

Individuals interested in receiving updates from the CDLE directly when it engages in the rulemaking process, may subscribe with the CDLE here.

Look for follow-up posts on this blog highlighting some of the key developments in some of these rules.

How will Proposition 118’s new paid Family and Medical Leave compare with currently required federal and state paid leave?

As noted on this blog, Colorado voters approved Proposition 118, which will mandate the creation of a new state-administered insurance program to provide paid Family and Medical Leave.

As Colorado employers know, the current federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not require paid leave. However, federal law currently does require paid leave in some instances, most notably up to 80 hours of pandemic leave with the possibility of an additional 10 weeks for pandemic-related childcare/school closure. Colorado’s newly mandated paid leave law already requires similar pandemic leave, plus on January 1, 2021 at least 48 hours of general paid sick leave.

This new Proposition 118 leave will be in addition to these leaves. Proposition 118 leave is not limited to pandemic-related needs. While this new leave will run concurrently with any federal unpaid FMLA leave, a company may not require an employee to exhaust other paid leave prior to taking this leave, though workers and companies may “mutually agree” to make up any difference between lost pay and the benefits provided with such other leave, quoting CRS 8-13.3-410.

Explanatory material in the Colorado legislature’s 2020 Blue Book summarizing Proposition 118, illustrated this benefit formula with the following table (parentheticals added):

Proposition 118 SB 20-205 (the portion of Colorado’s newly mandated paid leave law that is not limited to pandemic-related needs) FMLA
Type of leave Family and medical Medical Family and medical
Length of leave/paid or unpaid 12 weeks (up to 16 for pregnancy or childbirth complications); paid Up to 6 days; paid 12 weeks; unpaid
Eligibility requirements After $2,500 in wages have been subject to premiums Employee earns 1 hour paid sick leave per 30 hours worked; up to 48 hours per year After employee has worked for 12 months
Job protection After working for employer for 180 days N/A Yes
Employer size All employers (with 10 or more employees) Employers with 16 or more employees as of Jan. 2021; all employers beginning Jan. 2022 All elementary and secondary schools; public agencies; private businesses with 50 or more employees
Reasons for leave Birth or adoption of child; caring for self or family member; family member going on active duty in the military; sexual assault/abuse, & stalking Care for employee’s health/safety; care for a person that the employee needs to provide health/safety-related care Birth or adoption of child; caring for family member; family member going on active duty in the military

Interested in more information about Proposition 118 and the other new federal and state paid leave laws?

  • How will all this play out?
  • What do we know?
  • What can we expect?
  • What should HR professionals do to prepare their organizations?

Join us for a complimentary, engaging and interactive webinar.

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When: Thursday, Nov 12, 2020 Noon 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada) 

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Colorado voters approve Proposition 118 Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance

Colorado voters approved Proposition 118, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act, to be codified at CRS 8-13.3-401, et seq. The Act enhances already required paid leaves at the federal and state level by requiring the State of Colorado to create a new agency capable of administering a paid family and medical leave insurance-based program. The new agency will be called the DFMLI (Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance).

Interested in more information about Proposition 118 and the other new federal and state paid leave laws?

  • How will all this play out?
  • What do we know?
  • What can we expect?
  • What should HR professionals do to prepare their organizations?

Join us for a complimentary, engaging and interactive webinar.

L2S Legal, LLC is recognized by SHRM to offer SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP professional credits (PDCs). This program is valid for 1.0 PDCs.

When: Thursday, Nov 12, 2020 Noon 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada) 

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When will Proposition 118 take effect?

Employers, employees and the State of Colorado have ample time to consider Proposition 118 and begin preparing. The first premiums will not be charged until January 1, 2023, and benefits will not be available until January 1, 2024.

What does Proposition 118 require?

Proposition 118 will require the State of Colorado to create the DFMLI, which will administer this new program. Premiums will be paid in part by employers and employees, although employers will be able, if they choose, to pay the employee-share. The insurance benefits to be paid to eligible workers will cover up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave, plus another 4 weeks in the event of pregnancy or childbirth complications. Such leave will be allowed on an intermittent basis. When “foreseeable,” at least 30-day notice will be required of the worker; when not, the worker will be required to provide as much notice as possible, CRS 8-13.3-405.

What employers will be exempt from Proposition 118?

Proposition 118 will apply to employers of 10 or more workers; in other words, employers of fewer than 10 employees will be exempt from paying premiums. Sole proprietors will have the opportunity to opt into the program if they choose for 50% of what their premium would otherwise be based on their income (see below).

Which employees will be eligible for Proposition 118?

Workers who have worked for their employer for at least 180 days, will be eligible to receive benefits after they have earned $2,500 in wages on which Proposition 118 taxes (premiums) were paid. It is not clear in Proposition 118’s language, but it appears that a worker need not work for a covered employer to claim these benefits; in other words, it appears that a worker who meets those wage-and-hour requirements may be able to claim these benefits even if their employer did not pay the company-side premiums (although employees of exempt small employers will be required to pay their own employee-side premiums).

CRS 8-13.3-403(7)’s definition of “employee” also includes those who provide “labor or services for the benefit of another, irrespective of whether the common law relationship of master and servant exists,” which arguably may include some traditional independent contractors.

What reasons will trigger paid leave under Proposition 118?

There will be five qualifying reasons for Proposition 118 leave:

  1. The worker’s own serious health condition
  2. A serious health condition of a family member
  3. Birth, adoption, or placement in foster care
  4. Certain military service
  5. “Safe leave,” which is a type of leave, defined in Proposition 118, related to absences for the worker’s or a family member’s experiences involving domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault

What will benefit levels be?

Benefits will be paid at 90% of the worker’s average weekly wage (AWW) to the extent the worker’s AWW is less than or equal to 50% of the Statewide AWW (SAWW), plus 50% to the extent the worker’s AWW exceeds 50% of the SAWW. In 2024, Proposition 118 anticipates the SAWW will be $1,340, at which time the maximum benefit will be $1,100 per week. In 2025, Proposition 118 estimates the SAWW will be $1,392, setting the maximum benefit of $1,253. Explanatory material in the Colorado legislature’s 2020 Blue Book summarizing Proposition 118, illustrated this benefit formula, as follows:

Weekly wage Weekly benefit Maximum annual benefit Percent of weekly wage
$500 $450 $5,400 90%
$1,000 $768 $9,216 77%
$1,500 $1,018 $12,216 68%
$2,000 $1,100 $13,200 55%
$3,000 $1,100 $13,200 37%

 

What will Proposition 118 cost and how much will employers and employees pay?

Proposition 118 is expected to cost a minimum of $575.4-million in the second half of the government’s 2022-23 budget year then $1.2-billion in its 2023-24 budget year. Of this, the State itself expects to spend $3.2-million in 2021-22 and $48.6-million in 2022-23. Employers will pay their share through premiums in the form of a payroll tax, but may split the premium 50/50 with their workers. Employers who choose will be able to absorb some or all of the employee share. The premium rate for the first two years, 2023 and 2024, will be 0.9% of the worker’s wages, of which half (i.e., 0.45%) will be paid by the company and the other half (i.e., the other 0.45%) will be paid by the employee, although a company will be able to choose to pay some or all of the worker’s share. In its third year, 2025, Proposition 118 will reset premium rates, so that the total aggregate amount of premiums paid into the program will equal 135% of 2024’s claims plus 100% of the DFMLI’s administrative costs. At that point, Proposition 118 sets a cap on the employee premium at 1.2% of the employee’s wages; Proposition 118 does not on an initial read appear to set a cap on the amount that will be imposed on employers once the premiums are reset starting in 2025.

During Proposition 118 leave, what happens with the worker’s health insurance?

During Proposition 118 leave, the worker’s health benefits will need to be continued though the worker will be required to pay their portion of such premiums, unless an employer chooses to absorb some or all of the employee’s share.

After Proposition 118 leave, will the worker be guaranteed a right to return to their position?

Proposition 118 provides that a worker who takes Proposition 118 leave will be entitled to return to their same position or a position with the same pay, benefits, seniority and status.

Additional expected requirements of Proposition 118

In addition, Proposition 118 prohibits retaliation and discrimination against workers who request or use Proposition 118 benefits.

While Proposition 118 contains some definitions and explanations of this new program, there is substantial work yet to be done to stand up this new program. Litigation is anticipated.

DOL reaffirms its FFCRA leave regulations following New York court ruling

Following a New York federal court’s ruling that struck portions of the DOL’s recent regulations governing FFCRA leave, the DOL has issued further rulemaking with expanded explanations. The new rulemaking largely reaffirms the prior regulations, including the specific rules struck by the New York court, but modifies the DOL’s prior rules regarding the FFCRA’s exclusion for employees of a health care provider by limiting the exclusion to those employees who are physicians or other health care providers, or “other employees who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventive services, treatment services, or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care,” apparently agreeing with the court in the New York case that janitors or cafeteria workers are not excludable, in other words, are entitled to FFCRA leave. The DOL’s new rulemaking will appear in the Federal Register 9/16/2020. The DOL summarizes its new rulemaking, as follows (quoting the DOL):

  1. The Department reaffirms that paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave
    may be taken only if the employee has work from which to take leave and explains
    further why this requirement is appropriate. This temporary rule clarifies that this
    requirement applies to all qualifying reasons to take paid sick leave and expanded
    family and medical leave.
  2. The Department reaffirms that, where intermittent FFCRA leave is permitted by the
    Department’s regulations, an employee must obtain his or her employer’s approval to
    take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave intermittently under
    § 825.50 and explains further the basis for this requirement.
  3. The Department revises the definition of “health care provider” under § 825.30(c)(1)
    to mean employees who are health care providers under 29 CFR 825.102 and
    825.125, and other employees who are employed to provide diagnostic services,
    preventive services, treatment services, or other services that are integrated with and
    necessary to the provision of patient care.
  4. The Department revises § 826.100 to clarify that the information the employee must
    give the employer to support the need for his or her leave should be provided to the
    employer as soon as practicable.
  5. The Department revises § 826.90 to correct an inconsistency regarding when an
    employee may be required to give notice of expanded family and medical leave to his
    or her employer.

With regard to parents of students on hybrid schedules (studying partly in school and partly remotely), the DOL clarified that such parents do not need to obtain permission from the company to take leave on the days the students are working remotely. The DOL explained that such leave is not intermittent leave technically (which would require permission it says, see #2 above) but is simply a day of regular leave.

BREAKING NEWS: Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issues paid-sick leave rule regarding coronavirus testing

According to a verbally issued executive order by Colorado Governor Polis, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has issued a rule (the “Colorado HELP” rule, aka the Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay rule) requiring certain employers to provide up to 4 days of paid leave for employees awaiting a coronavirus test result. Rule 3 reads, as follows:

Rule 3. Paid Sick Leave for Certain Employees.
3.1 Any employer engaged in the field of leisure and hospitality, food services, child care, education at all levels (including related services, including but not limited to cafeterias and transportation to, from, and on campuses), home health care (working with elderly, disabled, ill, or otherwise high-risk individuals), operating a nursing home, or operating a community living facility shall provide up to four days of paid sick leave for an employee (A) with flu-like symptoms and (B) who is being tested for COVID-19. The paid sick leave ends if an employee receives a negative COVID-19 test result.

3.2 These rules do not require an employer to offer additional days of paid sick leave if it already offers all employees an amount of paid leave sufficient to comply with Rules 3.1. However, an employee who already exhausted his or her paid leave allotted by the employer, but then has flulike symptoms and is being tested for COVID-19, is entitled to the additional paid sick days provided by Rule 3.1.
3.3 During paid sick leave covered by these rules, pay shall be provided (A) at the employee’s regular rate of pay (the COMPS Order Rule 1.8 definition of “regular rate of pay” is incorporated into this rule), including all forms of wages and compensation (but increased to the applicable minimum wage for an employee paid below the minimum wage due to a tip credit), and (B) for the employer’s regularly worked hours. To the extent that the employee’s rate of pay or hours worked had varied before the absence for illness, pay shall be in the amount of the employee’s average daily pay for the preceding month.
3.4 To the extent feasible, employees and employers should comply with the procedures of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to pursue and provide paid sick leave under these rules, except that (A) no employer may terminate an employee for inability to provide documentation during an illness covered by these rules, and (B) FMLA provisions do not narrow the rights and responsibilities provided by these rules.

Governor Polis has stated an intent to continue to explore ways the state can respond, including expanding availability of unemployment benefits and possibly freeing up state-government money to assist with other wage losses.

The CDLE’s page on its Colorado HELP rule, including the CDLE’s FAQ list, is available here, which includes the following Q&As:

What does the rule do?

  • Temporarily requires employers in certain industries (listed below) to provide a small amount of paid sick leave to employees with flu-like symptoms who are being tested for coronavirus COVID-19.

How much paid sick leave must be provided?

  • The employer must provide up to four days of paid sick leave to employees with flu-like symptoms who are being tested for coronavirus COVID-19. If the employee receives a negative test result, the paid leave ends.

Is this a requirement on top of sick leave an employer already provides?

  • No. If an employer already provides the paid leave necessary to meet these rules’ requirements, then the employer does not need to provide additional leave. However, if an employer does not already provide enough paid sick leave to comply with these rules, it will have to provide additional paid sick leave to meet the rules’ requirements. And if an employee already exhausted any paid leave allotted by the employer, but then has flu-like symptoms and is being tested for COVID-19, he or she is entitled to the additional paid sick days these rules provide.

Which employees and employers are covered by these sick leave rules?

  • Employers and employees in one of the following industries or jobs:
    • Leisure and Hospitality
    • Food Services
    • Child care
    • Education, including transportation, food service, and related work at educational establishments
    • Home health, if working with elderly, disabled, ill, or otherwise high-risk individuals
    • Nursing homes
    • Community living facilities
  • Workers are covered regardless of pay rate or method (hourly, weekly, piece rate, etc.); the daily pay during leave is either their established daily rate or, if their pay fluctuates, their average daily pay for the past month.

How long will the rule stay in effect?

  • The rules take effect March 11, 2020, for 30 days, or longer if the state of emergency declared by the Governor continues.

Why are these rules being created?

  • With the continuing spread of coronavirus COVID-19, coming to work while ill poses a serious threat to the health and safety of co-workers, others at the business, and the public generally. These rules will temporarily entitle certain employees to paid sick days in order to limit the spread of this disease.

Will additional funds be available for workers who need to be out of work longer than four days?

  • The current emergency rules only speak to paid leave for the four-day period required for testing, because that is what CDLE could do immediately. The Governor has asked CDLE to identify other potential supports and wage replacement, such as access to unemployment insurance. These options are under review to determine rulemaking authority, eligibility, etc.

 

Tenth Circuit reaffirms indefinite leave request is not a reasonable accommodation

The Tenth Circuit recently reaffirmed that a request for indefinite leave is not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Although the plaintiff provided some information about her need for leave, she failed to provide any sense of the anticipated duration of her disability. Instead she “informed her supervisor at Kelly on a Monday morning that she planned ‘not to come to work this week at all’ and indicated she would need additional time off for ‘some appointments and tests’ and for ‘five times of radiation.’” The Tenth Circuit held that was insufficient.

The accommodation Plaintiff requested would have required GE either to go without someone working at the receptionist position it had contracted with Kelly to staff (requiring others at GE to take over Plaintiff’s duties at the receptionist desk while still carrying out their own job duties), or to accept a supertemporary employee or employees who would fill in for Plaintiff for the week she wanted off and for whichever other additional times she needed to take off for tests, appointments, “times of radiation,” and other cancer-related reasons, while letting Plaintiff return to take over her temporary job position whenever she was free and felt up to attending work.

The case is a good reminder to employers of the value (and legal requirement under the ADA) of the interactive process. By communicating with the plaintiff and hearing her full request, the employer was able to gauge the legal reasonableness of her request under the ADA and determine it to be insufficient.

Source: Punt v. Kelly Services