The Public Health Emergency Has Ended; Colorado Employees May Use Public Health Emergency Leave for Three More Weeks
Friday, May 19, 2023
Colorado rules okay

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic and the United States government initiated designated travel bans. Since January 1, 2021, the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) has required employers in Colorado to supplement employees’ regular paid sick leave with additional paid public health emergency (PHE) leave upon declaration of a PHE by any federal, state, or local public health agency, which included the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the HFWA, an employee is permitted to use PHE leave “until four weeks after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.”

Quick Hits

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency as of May 11, 2023.

  • The governor’s office has not indicated that the public health emergency will be extended in Colorado.

  • Employees in Colorado may use paid PHE leave through June 8, 2023.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) declaration of a public health emergency expired at end of day on May 11, 2023. HHS anticipated this expiration date, as articulated in HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s letter to governors on February 9, 2023. Colorado followed suit; Governor Jared Polis did not extend his COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Order (D 2023 009) past its expiration date of May 5, 2023.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Labor Standards and Statistics’ webpage confirms the end of the PHE. As of this publication date, there has been no indication from the governor’s office that the most recent executive order will be extended or a similar order issued. The end of the PHE begins the sunsetting of the HFWA’s requirement to provide PHE leave stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. This means employees may use PHE leave through June 8, 2023.


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