Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
On November 3, 2020, Colorado became the ninth state to adopt a paid family-leave law. It was also the first state to do so via a ballot measure and not through a state legislature.
The Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI), provides 12 weeks of paid leave. Birth mothers with complications have the option to take an additional four weeks. Paid leave doesn’t only benefit parents of newborn babies. Employees can also use the benefit to care for their family members or for themselves.
This program is still in the early stages of its creation. Both employees and employers will need to make payroll contributions beginning January 1, 2023. The next year, benefits eligibility begins on January 1, 2024.
Like other programs, eligibility is determined by where the worker works, not their location. The employee must have worked in Colorado in the past year and earned at least $2,500. This can be combined with multiple employers.
- 1 Colorado Paid Family Leave/Maternity Leave:
- 1.0.1 What is the maximum amount of paid maternity leaves I can take?
- 1.0.2 Who is eligible for paid family leave?
- 1.0.3 What amount will I get paid?
- 1.0.4 Can I use my paid family leave for another purpose besides a newborn baby?
- 1.0.5 Do I need to use all my leave at once?
- 1.0.6 What if I foster, adopt or use a surrogate? Are those qualifying events?
- 1.0.7 Who is included in taking time off for family members?
- 1.0.8 How is the benefit paid for?
- 1.0.9 Can my employer opt out of the program?
- 1.0.10 If my company pays for some portion of leave, can the state law cover the rest up to 100 percent of my salary?
- 1.0.11 Is the leave pay taxed?
- 1.0.12 What do I have to do to get the money? How am I paid?
- 1.0.13 Are there any monetary caps on the benefit annually or during one’s lifetime?
- 1.0.14 Do I still receive my benefits and job protection while I’m out?
- 1.0.15 What about self-employed and freelancers, do they qualify for paid leave?
- 1.0.16 How has COVID-19 changed anything on the Colorado Paid Leave plan?
- 1.0.17 Where do I go if I have more questions?
Colorado Paid Family Leave/Maternity Leave:
This is all you need to know about Colorado’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act. (FAMLI):
What is the maximum amount of paid maternity leaves I can take?
Colorado’s new, paid family and medical leave program offers 12 weeks of parental leave at a partial salary. This is to help you bond with your child. Additional four weeks of paid parental leave may be available to birth mothers with any pregnancy-related condition, or one related to childbirth.
Colorado previously had a state version of unpaid federal FMLA that extended the benefit to domestic partners but didn’t provide any extra time off.
Who is eligible for paid family leave?
Colorado residents who have earned at least $2,500 the year before are eligible for paid family leave. Keep in mind that federal employees are not eligible, but they are covered by all state paid leave policies. These details are still being worked through during implementation. Local municipalities may also opt out from the benefit for their employees.
You can earn the $2,500 required wage through multiple jobs with different durations. This is in contrast to other paid leave laws such as FMLA which require that you work for a specific duration at one job in order to be eligible.
What amount will I get paid?
Workers with the lowest income, who earn less than the average weekly salary (AWW), will be paid 90% of their wages.
This is illustrated using 2021 numbers. Those earning less than $590/week (half the state’s average weekly wage) will receive 90 percent of their income. Those earning more would have their income replaced by a sliding-scale.
This program has a sliding scale that allows workers to receive 90% of their weekly average wage, up to a maximum of 50% of the state’s average weekly wage (currently $590/week). Workers earning more than that amount will receive 50% of the average weekly wage, until they reach the $1,100/week cap. The state’s average weekly wages will affect the maximum benefit. This will change each year.
Can I use my paid family leave for another purpose besides a newborn baby?
Yes. The 12 weeks of paid family time are available to help with illness, surgery, treatment, and care for family members.
Colorado’s Paid Family Leave law provides for up to 12 weeks of paid leave to “safe leave” to help survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Do I need to use all my leave at once?
No, you do not. The leave is available up to 12 months for a foster child, new baby, or adoption.
Paid leave benefits can be provided for time taken consecutively over a period of time or for a short time in some circumstances.
What if I foster, adopt or use a surrogate? Are those qualifying events?
Under Colorado Law, fostering a child, adopting a child, or having a child through surrogacy is eligible for the full 12 weeks of paid leave.
Who is included in taking time off for family members?
Colorado allows anyone to be considered family. This includes anyone who is a member of your family or has a significant personal or family relationship with the employee. The expanded definition of family has become more apparent with the pandemic. “A lot of biological families are split right now for a variety of reasons so who we can turn to for help is our network of loved ones,” Make said.
How is the benefit paid for?
Colorado’s paid leaves benefit is funded by both employee and employer contributions.
Employers and employees will each pay 0.45% (0.90% in total) of employee wages starting January 1, 2023. The state can adjust the premiums up to 1.2% after the initial two-year period. The overall structure of the system is that employers and workers split the cost 50-50. However, employers can cover more if they wish to do so.
Can my employer opt out of the program?
Employers with less than 10 employees do not have to pay the employer half of premium. However, employees who are eligible are still eligible and still contribute 0.45 percent payroll tax.
Employers of all sizes can opt out of the program if they offer a private program comparable or better, which is regulated and authorized in the state.
Panelli stated that an opt-out clause in similar states is usually for a small number of employers. These are often larger corporations with large employee numbers that have already implemented these programs. “Most businesses find the state social insurance model cheaper and more convenient.”
If my company pays for some portion of leave, can the state law cover the rest up to 100 percent of my salary?
Employers will always be able top-off wages and there are no restrictions on how you can coordinate your leave with your employer to reach 100 percent wages.
Is the leave pay taxed?
The state does not tax Colorado’s family leave benefit. However, federal taxes may apply to state-paid leave benefits.
What do I have to do to get the money? How am I paid?
Colorado has plenty of time to establish their benefits system for family leave paid by the state, even though benefits will not start until 2024. The details of how claims will be submitted are yet to be revealed.
Are there any monetary caps on the benefit annually or during one’s lifetime?
There is no lifetime or annual cap. The reimbursement benefits are limited to $1,100/week. This is 90 percent of the average weekly wage in the state. The benefit cap will increase as the AWW increases.
Do I still receive my benefits and job protection while I’m out?
Similar to federal FMLA, Colorado’s paid leave benefits offer job protection and allow employees to retain their benefits, as long as they are employed by the same employer for at least 180 days.
“Everyone can get the benefit starting from day one. You can apply for the benefit if you are working, and something happens. Panelli said that the job protection starts after 180 days. People who have multiple jobs are not eligible for job protection. The job protection applies only to the last 180 days of employment.
What about self-employed and freelancers, do they qualify for paid leave?
Yes, the benefit is currently available to anyone who has been enrolled for at least three years. However, the person must pay into the system for the same period.
How has COVID-19 changed anything on the Colorado Paid Leave plan?
Although COVID-19 does not anticipate to change any timelines for Colorado’s paid family or medical leave, COVID-19 raised concerns about the caregiving crisis in the country and was kept in mind when the ballot initiative in November 2020 was passed.
The policy was a sign of how passionate people were about it. While this was happening, it was difficult to qualify.
Where do I go if I have more questions?
There is currently no Colorado website that provides comprehensive information about the paid leave program. However, you may contact Panelli via the 9-5 Colorado website.