The Public Health Emergency Supplemental Leave Requirement in Colorado Is Not Over
The pandemic may be waning, but the requirement for Colorado employers to provide supplemental public health emergency leave to employees under certain COVID-19–related circumstances continues. On October 15, 2021, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced another extension of the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency, effective October 18, 2021. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first issued a COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on January 31, 2020, and HHS has renewed it since then—on April 21, 2020, July 23, 2020, October 2, 2020, January 7, 2021, April 15, 2021, and July 19, 2021.
Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) requires employers to supplement paid sick leave in certain circumstances in the event that a “public health emergency” is declared “until four weeks after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.”
Under the HFWA, a “public health emergency” is one “ declared by a federal, state, or local public health agency,” such as the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS public health emergency declarations remain in effect for 90 days unless the secretary determines the emergency no longer exists or the secretary extends a declaration. October 18, 2021, COVID-19 public health emergency renewal will remain in effect until January 16, 2022, unless it is renewed again or the secretary determines COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency.
Thus, if the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration remains in effect until “the official termination or suspension of public health emergency” on January 16, 2022, the HFWA requirement for supplemental paid sick leave would not expire until February 13, 2022.