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Colorado ballot measure makes PFML history

When we think back on the past week in U.S. election events, our minds may not immediately go to one of the most potentially impactful decisions made on the state level. Colorado has become the first state to implement a paid family and medical leave (PFML) program through a ballot measure. Proposition 118 was passed by 57.4% of the vote. It provides 12 weeks of PFML with an additional four weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications. Colorado’s PFML will provide both paid benefits and job protection. This program is funded through a payroll tax which is split 50/50 by employees and employers. Premiums will begin January 1, 2023 and benefits will begin January 1, 2024.

Employees are eligible for benefits after they have earned $2,500 in wages and have been employed by their employer for at least 180 days. Paid benefits are capped at $1,100 per week for 2024. Employees will receive 90% of their average weekly wage for the portion of wages that are less than or equal to 50% of the state average weekly wage and 50% of the portion of their wages that exceed 50% of the state average weekly wage. For 2024, the state average weekly wage is estimated to be $1,340. Employers can utilize the state plan or set up their own private plans through insurance or self-insurance.

Covered employees can take leave for these reasons:

  • For their own serious health condition
  • To bond with a new child during the first year after the birth or adoption or for foster care of a new child
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • When a family member is on active duty military service or is called for active duty military service
  • When the individual or the individual’s family member is a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault

As we keep our eye on trends, we’ll want to watch a couple of things as they develop in the leave space. In addition to being the first state to pass a paid family and medical leave program via ballot measure, Colorado will be the second state to have safe leave or domestic violence leave in its PFML program. We continue to watch state-specific leave trends; Colorado will join a growing number of states that provide PFML: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, the District of Columbia, Washington, and the upcoming Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon programs. We can expect a continued spirit of debate as we see how the appetite for this issue evolves.

Disability and leave educational opportunity

Join Bryon Bass for a webinar in partnership with the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) Thursday, November 12, on the topic of “FMLA Certifications — A Step-by-Step Guide.” Sedgwick partners can receive complimentary registration with the code 20SEDGWICK2, applied in step 3 of the registration process.

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