DENVER – Coloradans in certain industries will be eligible for up to four days of paid sick leave from their employer while they are being tested for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) under new emergency rules ordered by the governor earlier this week and issued by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) on Wednesday afternoon.
The new rules will apply to people who work in the following industries: leisure and hospitality; food services; child care; education and related food service or work at schools; home health if people are working with elderly, disabled, sick or high-risk people; nursing homes and community living facilities, the CDLE said.
The rules will apply to the private sector, local government, school district and public authority employers and employees who work in those industries.
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Under the rule, people working in those industries who exhibit flu-like symptoms and who is being tested for COVID-19 will be eligible for the paid leave for up to four days – or until they receive a negative test result.
But the rules do not require employers to offer the additional days if they already offer employees a sufficient amount of paid leave. Though if a person has already exhausted all of their paid leave from their employer and meets the criteria of the rule, they are entitled to the extra paid sick days.
The rule stipulates that people who receive the compensation will be paid at their regular rate for the hours they would have regularly worked while they were being tested.
It also says that employers cannot terminate an employee if the employee is not able to provide documentation during them exhibiting symptoms of and being tested for COVID-19.
And if an employer does not follow the emergency rules, they will be subject to an investigation and punishment, according to the rule.
The new rules take effect Wednesday and will remain in effect for either 30 days after adoption, the duration of the emergency declaration Gov. Jared Polis made earlier this week, or up to a maximum of 120 days after Wednesday.
As for the other wage replacement rules Polis discussed on Wednesday, the CDLE said it was still reviewing its options for such a plan.
The rules released Wednesday do not cover wage replacement if someone tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to quarantine themselves.
“Other wage replacement options, including unemployment insurance, are still under review by the department to determine the specifics for compensation for those who test positive,” the CDLE said in a news release. “Under current state law, unemployment insurance benefits are only available to workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. The Department is currently reviewing options to expand eligibility under existing rules.”
“Colorado is acting swiftly to contain the spread of this virus. These steps are important for individuals who work with vulnerable populations like older Coloradans and people with underlying health issues. When workers who might have Coronavirus lack paid sick leave, it poses a great risk to our ability to protect the public,” Polis said in a statement. “People want to do right by their fellow Coloradans and stay home when they are ill. But they shouldn’t be forced between doing what’s best for our community or missing rent. I am asking the entire private sector of Colorado to voluntarily offer paid sick leave pending Coronavirus testing results so that we can collectively do our part to contain the spread of the virus.”