COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Small businesses in Colorado Springs are working to figure out how they will implement the state's newest law that requires access to paid time off for all Coloradans.
Gov. Jared Polis signed the Health Families and Workplaces Act into law on Tuesday. It comes as Colorado continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses across the state continue to struggle financially.
The new act mandates all employers in Colorado to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leave. Employees can earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. A full-time employee would be eligible to use 48 hours of sick leave every year. Part-time employees are also required to have access to paid time off.
According to the bill text, the paid sick leave can be used for mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition. It can also be used if you need to take care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.
Reanna Werner is a Small Business Development Center Consultant and the owner of HR Branches. Werner said Colorado business owners want to help their employees but are concerned about how they will implement the new law.
“I would say most employers are excited to offer their employees another opportunity to take care of themselves and their wellbeing," Werner explained. "But employees do also have to understand that this is a real concern for their employers and there is a financial impact, and this will impact the sustainability and or even the viability of a lot of businesses.”
Werner believes local business owners face a number of challenges, partially due to how quickly the legislation evolved and was enacted by the governor.
“This hasn’t been budgeted for by any small businesses here or in the state of Colorado. And then you throw the COVID pandemic in with this. And small businesses — and even large businesses are getting new legislation thrown at them at a very fast pace," Werner said.
The new paid time off requirement mandates companies to keep detailed records of all employees' sick leave to prove the business is in compliance.
“All of these dollars are adding up. We’re already starting to see small business closures — and this will multiple it," Werner said. "Small businesses can’t sustain themselves through much more.”
Most employers will need to begin offering paid sick leave to all employees by January 1, 2021. Businesses or organizations with fewer employees will be required to comply with the law by 2022.