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2020 Colorado Employment Law Changes


With the new year comes a plethora of new rules and laws for businesses across the country and Colorado. In addition to the new Federal Overtime Exempt Rule and increased salary requirements, CO has an even higher salary threshold for exempt employees, clarified rules around ownership of tips and vacation and PTO, and impending pay scale requirements.

CO Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS)

The Colorado Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Wage Order #36 moved swiftly from proposal in November 2019 to the finalized rule on January 22, 2020, and outlines several changes for Colorado employers. One of the most significant changes under this new Wage Order is the increase in minimum salaries for most exempt employees. Now, not only do Colorado employers have to meet the new minimum federal salary threshold of $684 per week for exempt employees but beginning January 2021, Colorado exempt employees will have to be paid at least $778.85 per week ($40,500/year) increasing annually to $1057.69 per week ($55k/year) in 2024.

Other changes include a requirement to provide a printed copy of the COMPS notice to employees, clarity around meal and rest breaks, and regular rate of pay calculations.

CO Wage Protection Act Amendments

Another notable change from last year is an update to the Wage Protection Act which in short specifies that any vacation time provided to employees shall be treated as wages, cannot be forfeited, yet can be capped at one year’s worth of time (or more). It also specifies that tips shall be treated as wages, and lastly, employers cannot retaliate against employees in areas of wage and hour compliance because of the employees’ immigration status. Perhaps most importantly, the act of an employer withholding wages in any of these forms is considered theft and the employer could face criminal charges up to and including felony charges.

CO Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

We have time to prepare for this one, so you’ll be hearing more about this in the months ahead. For now, know that Colorado has enacted the act to improve pay transparency for all employees in the state. This will require things such as not asking for previous salary information, creating pay ranges for each position, making promotional opportunities known to all current employees on the same day, and having job descriptions and wage history for positions. This will become effective in January 2021.

Federal Joint-Employer Rule

On January 12, 2020, the Department of Labor announced it’s more employer-friendly final rule updating rules on Joint Employer status. In addition to an employee’s direct employer, by Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) definitions, there may be another person or entity responsible and liable for ensuring an employee is paid according to FLSA rules, receiving minimum wage, overtime when appropriate, and any other benefits required by law. It takes into consideration four factors including who is hiring or firing the employee, who is determining pay, who is maintaining personnel records, and who is responsible for the supervision of the employee. With the new rules, multi-level organizations including franchises and other specific examples are referenced and may not be considered ‘employers’ so long as they are not exercising any control in the 4 areas mentioned above. It is also important to note that this only applies to compliance with federal wage and hour rules. Other state and local laws may provide other guidance. For the full set of rules, you can reference the Fact Sheet on Joint Employer Status. The effective date of this new rule is March 16, 2020.

Still have questions about what this all means and how it affects you and your business? We’re here to help! Contact us at 970-818-5007 or admin@simplyHRpartners.com

simplyHR LLC is a consulting firm located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Navigating the complex compliance issues related to having employees can be tricky, we make HR simple so you have time to focus on your business.

The content of this website provides practical and HR best practice information and is not legal advice. simplyHR LLC does not provide legal advice or other professional services. While every effort is made to provide accurate and current information, laws change regularly and may vary depending on the state and/or the municipality your business operates in. The information provided from simplyHR LLC is provided for informational purposes and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgement. You should review applicable federal, state and municipality laws in your jurisdiction and consult with legal counsel as you deem necessary.