Update: As of Jan. 8, 2023, public health emergency leave in Colorado only applies to COVID-19 and will remain in effect at least into May 2023. Read more here.

DENVER (KDVR) — The COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S. amid the spread of other respiratory illnesses, and Colorado wants to make sure workers are covered if they get sick.

All Colorado employers are required to pay for sick leave, but not just the kind that accrues through the year. They are also required to provide 80 hours of public health emergency leave, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

As of Nov. 11, public health emergency leave in Colorado applies not only to COVID-19 but to the flu, RSV and similar respiratory illnesses. And it’s not just for confirmed cases. The labor department said public health emergency leave can be used for the following:

  • Symptoms of COVID, flu, RSV or other similar respiratory illnesses
  • Quarantining or isolating due to exposure
  • Testing for COVID or similar respiratory illnesses
  • Vaccination and its side effects
  • Inability to work because of health conditions that may increase susceptibility or risk of COVID, flu, RSV or similar respiratory illnesses
  • Needs to care for family (illness, school closure, etc.)

The rule applies to all Colorado employers, regardless of size or industry, according to the CDLE. Part-time employees are also eligible for the benefit, but they are not covered for as many hours.

Employers must pay the benefit at the same rate the employee earns, and it must be paid on time, according to the CDLE. It also “can’t be counted against employees as absences that may lead to firing or other negative action.”

How long will PHE leave be in effect in Colorado?

Public health emergency leave will stay in effect as long as a federal or state public health emergency is declared, according to the state. It will end four weeks after all public health emergency declarations are over.

In Colorado, the rule will be in effect at least into February. But the benefit will continue longer if any of the emergency declarations are renewed.

The paid sick leave rules are identified under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act.