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All About the Leaves

Leaves of absence can be a tricky matter to navigate in an organization. Knowing what leaves employers are required to provide and for how long can find you down a Google rabbit hole. And then you have to know whether those leaves are paid or not. Like with other benefits offered by employers, the details of LOAs such as eligibility, duration, paid or unpaid, should be communicated to employees via a policy. Let's take a look at some LOAs and the guidelines surrounding them.


Vacation Leave/Paid Time Off (PTO)

This leave is dependent on the employer as to whether they offer vacation/PTO.


Who is eligible and is it paid? Again, this would be at the discretion of the employer. Some employers will set up a tiered PTO system based on the length of service with the organization. While others will offer different amounts of time between their full-time and part-time employees.


Note: If an employer offers vacation time, any earned, unused time should be paid out when employment ends.


Colorado Paid Sick & Safe Time (PSST)

Effective January 1, 2022, all employers regardless of size are required to provide one hour of PSST for every 30 hours worked. For employers with 16 or more employees, the law went into effect on January 1, 2021. The time can be accrued or frontloaded, and a cap of no less than 48 hours can be used. Next month, we will go more in-depth into this law.


Who is eligible and is it paid? All employees are eligible beginning on the date of hire and the time is paid.


Note: Any accrued, unused time does not need to be paid out upon separation.


Bereavement Leave

There is no state requirement to provide bereavement leave. If an employer offers bereavement leave, it is generally for a period of up to 3 days in the event of the death of a member of their immediate family or 1 day for an extended family member or friend. Immediate family includes spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, parents-in-law, brothers or sisters, brothers-in-law or sisters-in-law, grandparents, and grandchilden. We have seen both paid and unpaid bereavement leaves.


Pregnancy & Disability Leaves

Aside from anti-discrimination laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is no enacted law or set amount of time off that a private employer, with fewer than 50 employees, has to provide to an employee who is pregnant or who has a disability. The employer will engage in the interactive process to determine what a reasonable accommodation may look like, such as a leave of absence request. Generally, the employee's healthcare provider will indicate how long the employee will need to be on leave.


Who is eligible and is it paid? All employees are eligible and it's up to the employer whether the leave is paid or unpaid.


Note: To the extent possible, consistency is key when administering these types of leaves. Actually, all leaves, for that matter!


Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers who have 50 or more employees in a 20 week period must provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons.


Who is eligible and is it paid? An employee who has worked for the employer for at least 12 months, has worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave, and works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. This leave is unpaid.


Note: If you are a covered employee, you may want to review FMLA in greater detail as there are notifications and additional requirements when administering this leave.


Non-FMLA Leave

Some employers who are not covered by FMLA will offer a medical leave of absence. The eligibility, length of leave, and other details of the leave are outlined by the employer.


Jury Duty

All employees summoned for jury duty will be provided with job-protected leave. This is the time an employee is serving on a jury, including the selection process period.


Who is eligible and is it paid? All regular employees are eligible and they will be paid regular wages but not to exceed fifty dollars per day, up to three days of juror service.


Voting Leave

Though Colorado has the option of absentee ballots for its residents, in compliance with state law, employers are to allow employees to take two consecutive hours of leave during polling hours to vote.


Who is eligible and is it paid? All employees are eligible and the time is not paid unless it's in accordance with FLSA exempt status or the employer chooses to provide pay.


Military Leave & Military Training Leave

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the employment status of the men and women who serve in the armed forces. Employees may take unpaid military leave, as needed, to enable them to fulfill their obligations as service members.


Similarly, National Guard and U.S. Reserves service members are entitled to up to 15 days of unpaid leave per calendar year for training with the U.S. Armed Forces.


Domestic Abuse Leave

Colorado law permits an employee to take up to 3 days of leave in any 12-month period if they are the victim of domestic abuse or any crime related to domestic abuse.


Who is eligible and is it paid? All employees are eligible and this leave is unpaid.


We have briefly covered various leave requirements and options for employers. To learn more and dive a little deeper into these leaves, we invite you to attend this month's interactive training on September 29th at 11:00 AM MT. Bring a friend and any questions you might have. You can register here.