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Colorado Officially Increases the Minimum Salary Threshold for Exempt Employees and Makes Changes for Non-Exempt Employees Too

As previously discussed, Colorado has taken steps to increase the salary threshold for employees that fall under the “white collar” exemptions, following in the footsteps of Alaska, California, New York, Maine, and Washington State – and the federal Department of Labor. On January 22, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor adopted the final Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order #36 (“COMPS Order”), which makes significant changes for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Most provisions become effective March 16, 2020, with the exception of the increased salary thresholds, which begin on July 1, 2020.

Under the COMPS Order, which goes into effect on March 16, 2020, there will be an increase in salary thresholds for exempt employees, surpassing the threshold provided by federal law. Below is an annual breakdown of the minimum salary for Colorado employees, with the first changes effective beginning July 1, 2020 (which differs slightly from a previously proposed breakdown we discussed in our last post):


Minimum Salary Threshold

  July 1, 2020

  $684.00 per week ($35,568 per year)

  January 1, 2021

  $778.85 per week ($40,500 per year)

  January 1, 2022

  $865.38 per week ($45,000 per year)

  January 1, 2023

  $961.54 per week ($50,000 per year)

  January 1, 2024

  $1,057.69 per week ($55,000 per year)

  January 1, 2025

  The 2024 salary adjusted by the same   Consumer Price Index as the Colorado   Minimum Wage

The COMPS Order also imposes changes for non-exempt employees. The prior wage and hour rules applied only to employees in certain industries (including the retail, commercial, food & beverage, and health & medical industries); the COMPS Order will cover all employees in Colorado, unless a specific exclusion applies. Among those excluded employees are (i) in-residence workers, (ii) interstate transportation workers, (iii) owners or proprietors who are full-time employees “actively engaged in managing the business” and own at least a bona fide 20% equity interest in the employer, and (iv) work-study students.

This expansion means that all non-exempt employees will be subject to Colorado’s daily overtime, meal, and rest break rules.  Colorado’s overtime rule requires overtime for hours worked in excess of (i) 12 hours per workday, (ii) 12 consecutive hours regardless of the start and end time of the workday, or (iii) 40 hours per workweek, whichever results in a greater payment for the employee. Colorado’s meal break rule requires a 30-minute uninterrupted break for shifts exceeding 5 hours, which, to the extent practical, must be at least one hour after the shift begins and one hour before the shift ends. Colorado’s rest break rule generally requires a 10-minute rest period for each 4 hours of work, or major fraction thereof, which to the extent practical must be in the middle of each 4 hour work period. Additionally, the COMPS Order adds new components to Colorado’s break time rule, by allowing for employers and employees to enter into certain agreements concerning break time and clarifying that employees who are not permitted the required 10-minute rest period for each four hours of work will receive an additional 10 minutes of compensation.

Additional changes provided in the COMPS Order concern the employee notification and posting requirements. With respect to posting, every employer must display a COMPS Order poster published by the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics (“Division”), unless the workplace conditions make physical posting impractical, in which case employers may distribute it to employees upon hire and must make the COMPS Order available to employees upon request. The poster is not yet available, so employers should monitor the Division’s poster website. Employers who provide a handbook or policies to their employees must include a copy of the COMPS Order or poster in the handbook or policies.  Further, if the employer requires acknowledgment of the handbook or policies, the employer must at the same time or promptly thereafter include a copy of the COMPS Order or poster and have the employee sign an acknowledgment of being provided with the COMPS Order or poster.  Employers with any employees who have limited English language abilities must provide those employees with a version of the COMPS Order and poster in Spanish (if applicable to the employee) or contact the Division to request such materials in the appropriate language.

Employers in Colorado should evaluate their employees’ exemption status to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements in anticipation for the July 1, 2020 changes, and revise their handbooks and acknowledgment procedures for the March 16, 2020 effective date.

©2022 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 42

About this Author

Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper Labor Employment Attorney Epstein Becker Law Firm
Member of the Firm

NANCY GUNZENHAUSER POPPER is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green.

Ms. Popper:

  • Counsels clients on compliance with EEO laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, worker classification issues, and other federal, state, and local statutes governing the workplace

  • Advises employers in all facets of the employment relationship, from pre-employment considerations and hiring to terminations and post-employment...

Ann Knuckles Mahoney, Epstein Becker Green, employee handbook attorney

ANN KNUCKLES MAHONEY is an Associate in the Employment, Labor, and Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. Ms. Knuckles Mahoney:

  • Counsels employers on practices and procedures, such as employee handbooks and stand-alone policies

  • Advises employers on Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and hour laws and the classification of workers

  • Assists in defending clients in labor and employment-related litigation in a...

Alison E. Gabay Law Clerk Epstein Becker Green
Law Clerk

ALISON E. GABAY* is a Law Clerk – Admission Pending – in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. She will be focusing her practice on employment litigation, disability and public accommodation issues, and employment training, practices, and procedures.

Ms. Gabay received her Juris Doctor from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (“Cardozo”), where she was a Notes Editor of the Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal. While attending law school, Ms. Gabay worked at the Authors Guild through...