This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Colorado.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Colorado.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
No US state or federal law requires employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time, including Colorado.
It’s up to employers’ discretion whether to offer employees vacation time. However, if written into an employee’s contract or company policy, the company is legally required to comply with the terms of the contract/policy.
Colorado prohibits Use It or Lose It policies for any form of accrued leave, including vacation and sick leave. Accrued paid time off is protected under the Colorado Wage Act, and cannot be forfeited once earned.
Use It or Lose It leave policies mean that any leave not used at the end of the year is forfeited, and not carried over to the following year. Learn more about Use It or Lose It policies here.
All earned vacation time must be paid out upon employment separation (e.g. when an employee quits, is fired or is laid off) in Colorado. This may include personal days, floating holidays, and any other kind of paid leave that is earned.
Unused sick leave, however, is not required to be paid out upon separation.
The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act entitles almost all temporary, part-time and full-time employees to paid sick leave. Employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
Employers may cap the amount of sick leave earned or used per year to a total of 48 hours. Employees may carry over up to 48 hours of unused sick leave at the end of the year.
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Colorado must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following state holidays are observed in Colorado:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day|
|3rd Monday in February||President’s Day|
|Last Monday in May||National Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|1st Monday in October||Frances Xavier Cabrini Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
In Colorado there is no obligation to give paid or unpaid time off for state holidays, and employees can be required to work on holidays without giving extra pay or additional compensation (such as a floating holiday or compensatory time off).
The federal FMLA allows new mothers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child (along with a new adoption or placement of a foster child). The Family Care Act (FCA) in Colorado provides the same benefit (concurrent with the FMLA – employees cannot take time off under the FCA and FMLA), but widens the scope to include civil union and domestic partners.
The FMLA provides the same benefits to new fathers, giving them the right as well to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a new birth, adoption or foster.
There is no state law in Colorado requiring employers to offer bereavement leave, paid or unpaid. However, employers must allow employees to take sick leave for bereavement purposes.
Colorado employers must pay regular employees up to $50 per day for the first three days of trial or grand juror service.
In addition, employers may not discharge or penalize an employee in any way for serving jury duty.
Colorado law allows employees to take up to two hours of paid leave for voting, unless the employee has three or more hours available between the opening of the polls and the start of their shift, or the end of their shift and the closing of the polls.
Colorado state law allows victims of domestic violence or sexual assault up to three days off in a year for the purposes of getting a protection order or legal assistance, or seeking medical counseling and treatment.
This law applies in companies with a minimum of 50 employees.
Legal guardians of school children are entitled to take up to six unpaid hours off per month and up to 18 hours per school year for school-related activities or parent-teacher conferences.
This law applies to companies with a minimum of 50 employees.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Colorado, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Colorado state law also allows state and U.S. military service members the right to reinstatement of their previous position (including all wages, seniority, and benefits), unlimited time off for active service members, and up to 15 days of unpaid leave per year for members of the National Guard or the U.S. armed forces to attend military exercises.
Anything not covered in Colorado state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.