New version of paid family leave proposal has employees paying more

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DENVER -- A paid family leave bill is one the major pillars of Democratic agenda at the Colorado State Capitol this year. With fewer than 20 days to go in the session, lawmakers are re-writing the bill.

“We listened to testimony from people in our districts and responded to those concerns and rewrote the bill,” Sen. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) said.

The previous version of the bill not only ran into opposition from business groups but from Democrats on the State Finance Committee.

Supporters are hopeful that is not the case with this new bill.

Under the amended version of the paid family leave proposal, employees would contribute 0.36 percent of their annual salary to the state paid family leave fund.

Employers would contribute 0.24 percent of an employee’s salary to the same fund.

Businesses with similar paid leave proposals already on the books would be able to opt out of the state plan.

Local governments could also opt out.

Sen. Winter is also offering an amendment to clarify when a worker can claim paid family leave.

“You have to have emotionally care for one another, physically cared for one another and financially cared for one another. You have to meet all three standards,” Winter said.

Under the new proposal, people making $23,000 annually would pay $83 per year to the state fund.

Those making $50,000 annually would contribute $180 per year.

Coloradans earning more than $104,000 annually would contribute $374 per year.

Employees would be eligible beginning in 2024 for 12 weeks of paid family leave if they worked 680 hours the previous year.

Employees would receive a percentage of their weekly paycheck with benefits capped at $1,000 per week.

However, business groups are raising serious opposition.

“The money has to come from somewhere,” Jen Waller with the Colorado Banking Association said.

Waller pointed to a new economic report which showed lawmakers could be greatly underestimating how many people will use this program.

“This is very expensive and either employers or employees or all of us through tax dollars will have to pay for it,” Waller said.

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