Some Good-to-Know Employment Laws for Colorado Workers and Employers

February 11, 2019

New to Colorado?  Or native to Colorado (like most of us at 10 til 2 / 9 to 5 Search) but can't keep up with all the changes?

Mark Wiletsky at Holland and Hart wrote an excellent article on our state’s evolving employment laws for the Lexology site, and here are just a few of the current (2019) employment law provisions in Colorado.  Keep in mind that some are unique to our state, and some have special exceptions:

•    In the absence of a contract, employment relationships in Colorado are presumed to be at will, terminable with or without cause or notice.

•    As of January 1, 2019, Colorado minimum wage is $11.10 per hour.  The Colorado Constitution requires it be adjusted annually for inflation, but as a result of Amendment 70 passed in 2016, it will increase $0.90 per year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020.  Thereafter, it will be adjusted annually as measured by the Consumer Price Index. 

•    Colorado is a modified right to work state.  Collective bargaining agreements may require that all employees join the union as a condition of employment, but Colorado's Labor Peace Act provides conditions that must be met before such contract provisions be included in the agreement.

•    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members account for about 10 percent of wage and salary workers in Colorado.  

•    Employers may not discriminate based on an employee's use of a lawful product during non-working hours.

•    Sexual orientation, including gender identity, is a protected category under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

•    Regarding background checks, the Colorado Civil Rights Division states (in its pre-employment inquiries guidelines) that asking any questions about arrests may lead to discriminatory inference, and questions about convictions should be substantially related to the applicant's ability to perform a specific job.

•    Regarding immigration status, Colorado no longer has a state employment verification.  Employers must comply with federal law.

•    Employers must provide domestic abuse leave of up to three working days in any 12-month period to an employee who is a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault or other related crime.

•    Colorado requires overtime pay be paid to non-exempt employees at 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per working week, and on a daily basis for hours worked over 12 hours per day, or 12 consecutive hours without regard to start and end time of the working day, whichever calculation results in greater pay.

•    Minors (under 18) may not work more than 40 hours in a week or more than eight hours in any 24-hour period.  Minors under 16 may not work more than six hours after school unless the next day is not a school day.

•    Regarding social media, employers may not even suggest that an employee or applicant disclose information that provides access to the individual's personal social media or personal electronic devices.  Employers may not compel any employee or applicant to change his/her privacy settings, or to "friend" or "follow" anyone on social media.

•    When an employee is terminated, all earned wages are due immediately.  If the accounting unit is not operational, pay is due no later than six hours after the start of the accounting unit's next working day.

•    When an employee resigns or quits, all earned wages are due by or on the next regular working day.

•    Employers must provide an uninterrupted meal time of at least 30 minutes to employees scheduled to work a shift of five or more hours.  If the nature of the job does not allow for an uninterrupted meal break, the employee must be permitted to eat an "on-duty" meal while working, and such period must be compensated.

•    Paid rest periods of 10 minutes are required for every four hours worked, or major fractions of four hours.

•    Under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, harassment is not an illegal act unless a complaint is filed with the appropriate authority at the complainant's workplace and such authority fails to initiate a reasonable investigation of the complaint and take prompt remedial action if appropriate.

And one fun fact:  Colorado is known for its highly educated workforce.  Evidently its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle make it a desirable place to live, work and study.
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