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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

Updates and changes to Colorado employment laws

New Colorado employment laws, effective Jan. 1, 2021, include better whistleblower protection, new job posting requirements and mandatory sick leave.

Colorado laws have received updates that create fairer workplaces. Although federal laws are in place, Colorado lawmakers have strengthened employee protections. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment lists these new rules and regulations under the Colorado Whistleblower, Anti-Retaliation, Non-Interference, and Notice-Giving Rules, or Colorado WARNING Rules.

Protecting whistleblowers

The Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Act, or PHEW, allows employees to file discrimination lawsuits if their employer takes action against them in retaliation for complaints about health and safety matters. Lawmakers’ goal with PHEW is to ensure that employees are able to exercise their right to express concerns about legitimate issues in the workplace.

During public health emergencies, PHEW allows employees to provide their own personal protection equipment if it offers more safety than the PPE that the employer provides.

Preventing wage discrimination

Employees should not have to take home less pay because of gender. New protections include a mandate that employers pay equal wages for employees who perform similar job duties. The law also requires audits to prevent discrimination from sliding under the radar.

Employers may not ask people about their previous earning history in job interviews. In the past, employers have used this information to set wages for new hires – a practice that will now be illegal. Employers must also post the compensation scale of any given job in the job posting, and when a position opens, employees must all receive notification of its availability and pay range.

Improving sick leave

Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act now requires employers in the state that have 16 or more employees to provide paid sick leave at the rate of one hour of leave per 30 hours worked. The minimum paid sick leave the law allows is 48 hours, and an employee may take leave in one-hour increments.

During public health emergencies, employers must give full-time employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Employees may use the sick leave for reasons that may not normally qualify. For example, in the case of a school closure, a parent may use sick leave to stay home with a child.

Identifying illegal activity

Employers must inform employees of their rights under current state law by putting up posters. However, discrimination is often subtle, and it may be difficult to identify whether an action meets the criteria under the law. Employees who believe a Colorado employer may have violated their rights under these new laws may want to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney.

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