Building Momentum: Paid Sick Leave for Colorado Workers


Monika Dymerski, Policy Fellow

On July 14th, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 205, the “Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act.” Colorado is the latest state to pass legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for all workers. A total of 13 states and DC have enacted paid sick leave laws since Connecticut started the trend with SB 913 in 2012.

Colorado’s SB 205, which will take effect on January 1, 2021, guarantees workers can earn up to 6 days of paid sick time a year. This leave can be used for personal or family health needs and/or needs related to domestic abuse and sexual assault. Both full and part-time workers may take paid leave as it is accrued.

The bill also addresses paid sick leave during public health emergencies and includes specific language on COVID-19 responses: through December 2020, all Colorado employers must provide 2 weeks of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19  (the amount designated by the federal coronavirus response act) to each employee who is not currently covered by the Act. While early versions of this federal law covered all workers, many were eventually excluded from its paid leave provisions.

Although the passage of SB 205 marks important progress in ensuring paid sick leave for Coloradans, many advocates say that more is needed. In response, the Colorado Families First coalition is collecting petition signatures for Initiative 283. This ballot initiative proposes a more progressive leave formula, providing most Colorado workers with up to 12 weeks of partial pay and job security in the event they need to take a leave of absence from their jobs, and up to 16 weeks if the employee has certain complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. Advocates have until August 3  to collect the required number of signatures for Initiative 283 to make it on the November ballot.

Equal Rights Advocates is tracking these emerging legislative trends on our Women’s Agenda Policy Hub. In collaboration with our partners in the Women’s Agenda Initiative, we are committed to supporting organizations across the country in their policy and advocacy efforts on workplace justice issues. You can also access COVID-related resources on our website. 

And, as part of the Stronger California Advocates Network, ERA is sponsoring several state policies that aim to support and protect workers during the pandemic. Our list of priority bills includes AB 3216, which would guarantee 7 additional paid sick days for workers during public health emergencies and would allow workers to use unpaid leave provided under existing law to care for themselves or a family member affected by COVID-19, including a family member whose school or care facility is closed due to the pandemic. Take action to support AB 3216.

Stay informed on upcoming advocacy opportunities for this bill and others by joining our Action Team email list. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest updates.

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