2017 Proposed Colorado Employment Laws

The 2017 Colorado proposed legislation could significantly impact Colorado employers.  On January 31, 2017, Senators Jack Tate (R-District 27)[1] and Jim Smallwood (R – District 4)[2] spoke at the Labor and Employment Council for the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry (“CACI”) and provided an overview of various proposed employment laws.[3]  Below is Campbell Litigation’s report on the meeting.

The Return of Parental Leave

In 2009, the Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act (“2009 Act”) required an employer with fifty or more employees to provide up to eighteen hours in an academic year, taken in three-hour increments, for an employee to attend his or her child’s academic activities.[4]  The 2009 Act expired on September 1, 2015, but Representative Janet Buckner (D – Aurora) and Senator Andy Kerr (D – District 22) want the 2009 Act reinstated and have introduced legislation to do so.[5]  Employers will want to follow this legislation to ensure compliance if it passes.

Release of Employer Information in Wage Theft Violations

Representative Jessie Danielson (D – Jefferson County) introduced House Bill 17-1021 that would require the Colorado Department of Labor and Education’s Division of Labor Standards and Statistics to publicly release certain employer records if the Division found a  wage violation unless the Division’s director specifically finds that the information is a trade secret.[6]  Currently, the Division is prohibited from releasing the information if it might reveal a trade secret.[7]  If House Bill 17-1021 passes in its current form, it would make it more likely that the Division would publicly release employer information related to wage law violations.

Employers That Do Not Provide Workers’ Compensation May Pay Increased Penalties and Subject Officers and Directors to Personal Liability

The Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation initiated a bill that creates the Colorado Uninsured Employer Fund (the “Fund”) and increases penalties—from $15,000.00 to $20,000.00—for companies that do not provide workers’ compensation coverage.  The proposed Fund collects penalties from employers who do not carry workers’ compensation insurance and creates an uninsured employer board that would, among other things, establish criteria for paying benefits, and collecting money due to the Fund.[8]  The bill also holds company officers and directors personally liable for failing to provide workers’ compensation coverage.[9]  This bill, at present, does not allow a safe harbor for an unintentional lapse in workers’ compensation coverage.

30-Day Cure Period for Companies’ Minor Violations

Senator Tim Neville (R – District 16) and Representative Patrick Neville (R – Douglas County) recently introduced the Regulatory Relief Act of 2017, which requires state agencies to give employers with fewer than 500 employees at least thirty days to cure a first-time minor violation of a rule before imposing a fine.[10]  Extensions of the thirty-day cure period are allowed for good cause.[11]  “Minor violations” are defined as operational or administrative violations (such as record keeping, data retention, and filing reports), but does not include any violation regarding employee or public safety.[12]  Put simply, this bill would likely lead to fewer fines for small businesses that commit minor violations, assuming they cure the violation in a timely manner.

Campbell Litigation will track these employment-related bills throughout the legislative session and report back on their progress.

 

[1] Senator Tate is the Chair of the Colorado Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee.

[2] Senator Smallwood is the Chair of the Colorado Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

[3] Campbell Litigation, P.C.’s Stacey Campbell is the Chair of CACI’s Labor and Employment Council.

[4] Employees were also required to give one-week notice, unless an emergency, and the employer could restrict leave in cases of emergency or if the employee’s absence would halt the employer’s service or production.

[5] See House Bill 17-1001.

[6] See House Bill 17-1021.

[7] See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-1-115.

[8] See House Bill 17-1119.

[9] Id.

[10] See Senate Bill 17-001.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

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