Overview of Newly-Proposed Colorado Employment Laws

   In January, Colorado lawmakers convened for the 2018 state legislative session. Below is a summary of three noteworthy proposed bills that would impact Colorado employers.

1.                  Bill to Create Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

   House Bill 18-1001, introduced by two Democrats, would create a family and medical leave insurance (“FAMLI”) program funded by mandatory employee contributions and give employees of all employers (regardless of size) the right to take protected leave for 12 weeks in a year (during which time employers must maintain existing health benefits). Notably:

   Whereas the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) covers larger employers (generally speaking, those with 50 or more employees),[1] all Colorado employers are covered under proposed HB 18-1001.

    Whereas employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours in the past year to be entitled to FMLA leave,[2] employees are entitled to leave under proposed HR 18-1001 if they have worked for an employer” for just 90 or more days.

    In addition to taking leave for one’s own serious health condition or to take care of an actual family member or domestic partner with a serious health condition, an employee could take protected leave under proposed HR 18-1001 to take care of one “designated person,” regardless of that person’s relationship to the employee.

    Unlike the FMLA, HB 18-1001 would prohibit an employer from requiring employees to use sick time, vacation, or paid time off when taking leave.

    A similar bill introduced last year was “killed” in the state Senate (i.e., postponed indefinitely).[3]

2.                  Bill Allowing Private Employers to Give Hiring Preference to Veterans

    Senate Bill 18-044, introduced by a Republican, would allow private employers to give preference to veterans when hiring, promoting, and retraining employees, so long as veterans are equally qualified as other individuals. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) currently does not permit private employers to maintain veteran-preference policies in the absence of a state statute because such policies have a disparate impact on women; that is, such policies adversely affect women because there are more male than female veterans.[4]

 3.                  Bill to Expand Colorado’s Employee Election Leave Law

     House Bill 18-1033, introduced by a Democrat, expands an employee’s current right to leave to vote on election day to include the right to take leave to register to vote, obtain a ballot or replacement ballot, and engage in other voting-related activities.[5]

     Campbell Litigation will report back on the progress of these and other bills that would potentially impact Colorado employers.

[1] 29 U.S.C. § 2611(4).

[2] 29 U.S.C. § 2611(2).

[3] https://legiscan.com/CO/bill/HB1307/2017; Karen Middleton, Colorado’s 2017 Legislative Session Proves Leadership Matters, Huffington Post (May 24, 2017), https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colorados-2017-legislative-session-proves-leadership_us_59257f8ae4b0dfb1ca3a0fe5.

[4] See https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/veterans_preference.html.

[5] Currently, C.R.S. § 1-7-102 gives Colorado employees the right to take paid leave from work for up to two hours (during which time polls are open) to vote, unless there are at least 3 consecutive hours in which the employee is not scheduled to work and in which the polls are open.

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