Employment Laws

Everybody looks forward to the day their businesses grows to the point of having to start hiring others to help with various tasks.  Did you know that there are an overwhelming number of laws relating to employment at the Federal, State, and Local level that you must comply with?  It is difficult to navigate through all these rules and regulations on your own, so we recommend working with an HR company or hiring an HR consultant to help navigate these treacherous waters.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is the government agency that oversees the labor fair practices and assists employers in understanding their rights and responsibilities.  Below is a summary of some laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in our beautiful state, Colorado.  This is NOT meant to serve as legal advice nor be 100% comprehensive of all applicable laws – just a summary of some of the ones we discuss most often.

Employee Relations:

Fair Employment Practices – Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion, sex (including pregnancy), disability, age (over 40), national origin, sexual orientation, gender identify, ancestry, marriage to a co-worker ( more than 25 employees), and harassment.

Equal Pay – Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act prohibits discrimination of the basis of sex in the payment of wages for substantially similar work.  Also includes requirements for recordkeeping of wages and transparency in pay and opportunities for promotion or advancement.

Discussion of wages – Wage Transparency Act prohibits an employer from taking adverse actions against an employee who discusses their wages with others.  An employer is also prohibited from requiring that employees not disclose their wages.

Pregnancy Accommodations – Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for health conditions related to pregnancy such as more frequent or longer breaks, lifting limitations, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, and modified work schedules.

Access to Personnel Files – Employees have the right to access their personnel files at least annually.

Recruiting and Hiring:

Consumer reports – Colorado Consumer Credit Reporting Act prohibits consumer reports from containing certain information such as bankruptcy cases over 10 years old, arrest records more than 7 years old, and medical information unless the consumer consents.

Job Postings – Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act requires employers to make reasonable efforts to announce or post promotional opportunities to all employees of the organization, subject to certain limited exceptions. 

Credit Checks – Colorado Employment Opportunity Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from using consumer credit information for employment purposes (subject to some limitations). 

Ban the Box – Colorado Change to Compete Act prohibits the employer from advertising or stating on a application that a person with a criminal history cannot apply for a position or inquiring an applicant’s criminal history on an application.

Salary History Inquiry Restrictions – Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act prohibits employers from seeing the wage rate of a prospective employee or using their wage history to determine a wage rate. 

Wage and Hour:

Minimum Wage – Colorado minimum wage is $12.32/hour for non tipped employees and $9.30/hr for tipped employees.  There is also a minimum allowable wage for Salaried employees, currently $40,500 with increases over the next 3 years.

Overtime – Colorado law requires an employer to pay nonexempt employees 1 ½ their regular pay for any work in excess of 40 hours per week, 12 hours per workday, or 12 consecutive hours without regard to the starting and ending time of the workday.

Rest Breaks/Meal Breaks- An employer must provide employees with a 10-minute PAID rest break for each four hours worked and an uninterrupted meal period of at least 30 minutes for shifts exceeding 5 consecutive hours worked.

Breastfeeding Breaks – The Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act requires an employer to provide a nursing mother with reasonable, unpaid break time for nursing her child up to 2 years after the child’s birth.  An employer must also make a reasonable effort to provide a room in close proximity to the employee’s work area where the employee can express breast milk in private.

Child Labor – Child labor laws in Colorado restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed  and the number of hours and times during which they may work. 

Time Off and Leaves of Absence:

Paid Sick Leave – The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act requires an employer with 16 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave. 

Other Time Off – employers must also comply with other leave and time off laws such as Family Care Leave, Crime Victim Leave, Domestic Violence Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, Civil Air Patrol Leave, Qualified Volunteers Leave, Volunteer Firefighters Leave, and Voting Leave.

Health and Safety:

Smoke-Free Workplace – Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in workplaces and within 25 feet of entryways.

Safe Driving Practices – Colorado prohibits texting or wearing earphones in both ears while driving.

Organizational Exit:

Final Pay – An employee who voluntarily quits may be paid on the next regular payday.  An employee who is terminated must be paid immediately in most cases.  An employer who chooses to provide vacation pay benefits must pay all accrued but unused vacation pay to a separated employee according to the terms of any agreement made.

References – An employer is generally immune from liability for disclosing information regarding a former employee’s job history or performance to a prospective employer.

Health Care Continuation – Colorado group health policies issues to all employers must include the option for employees and their covered dependents to elect continuation of coverage after termination for usually up to 18 months.

Many of these laws above also overlap between federal or local law.  Complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.  Make sure you know what your responsibilities are as an employer prior to getting that first employee hired.  For more great information or HR resources, fill out the contact form on our website for a free consultation.

Heather McBroom, CIC

Owner of Precision Services

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