Colorado HELP Amended April 27, 2020: What is the law?
The current state of the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado situation has dragged on for much longer than lawmakers had initially planned for. When first enacted in March the Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules (“Colorado HELP” 7 CCR 1103-10) required up to four days of paid sick for employees being tested for coronavirus COVID-19. The law has been amended and the timeline has been extended. The amended law now requires employers to provide up to two weeks (80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave at 2/3rds the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours regularly worked by the employee.
An employer is required to provide paid sick leave to an employee with flu-like or respiratory illness symptoms and who is being tested for COVID-19 or under instructions from a health care provider or authorized government official to quarantine or isolate due to a risk of having COVID-19. The paid sick leave ends if an employee receives a negative COVID-19 test result once the employee has been fever-free for 72 hours, with other symptoms resolving as well – but not earlier than after seven calendar days off from work, and in no event with more than fourteen paid sick days. The requirement is not on top of sick leave an employer already provides and does not require full wage replacement should an employee test positive and be required to self-quarantine resulting in lost work time and wages.
What is the rollout timing?
The updated rules to the Colorado Help Law take effect April 27, 2020, and are currently expected to be in effect for at least 30 days. This timeline could be extended if the state of emergency declared by the Governor continues.
What are the penalties if not followed?
Failure to provide paid sick leave required under the Colorado HELP law is a failure to provide wages under Articles 1, 4, and 6 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) and COMPS Order #36. An employee can register a written complaint within 2 years for failure to pay wages due and there is no minimum size to make a claim for recovery. In the instance a complaint was brought through civil court the employee could recover the wages owed plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.
The Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics will investigate and enforce the rules under the Colorado HELP law. It is theft under the Criminal Code (C.R.S. § 18-4-401) if an employer or agent willfully refuses to pay wages or compensation (C.R.S. § 8-4-114); or intentionally pays an employee an hourly wage less than the minimum amount due (C.R.S. § 8-6-116).
How can RASI assist?
While the amended Colorado HELP law mirrors the FFCRA requirements there are not any tax credits associated with the paid leave in Colorado. Paid leave hours for Colorado HELP are separate and distinct from the emergency paid leave under the FFCRA. However, the FFCRA has provided some tools that will assist with the paid leave under Colorado HELP.
RASI has provided, under Payroll Reports on the web, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave-Employee Data report. The data in the report consists of the employee’s regular rate of pay, 2/3rds the employee’s regular rate of pay, and average weekly hours for the past six months. This report will provide historical data to assist managers when paying employees sick leave under the Colorado HELP law.
Please note this report was designed and created for the FFCRA and the rules are slightly different for the Colorado HELP law.
When there is a need to pay employees for sick leave under the Colorado HELP law please submit a support request to your accounting team to create a job code, CO-PSL, to ensure best record-keeping practices and proper reporting on paychecks.