Aug 23, 2022 - News

Denver opts out of state family leave program

Illustration of a paper cut family, with the child in the middle made of a dollar bill.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Denver will develop its own paid family leave system, one which city officials say will be better than the state's current offering.

Driving the news: The Denver City Council voted on Monday to decline participating in Colorado's Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, or FAMLI.

Between the lines: Council voted 10-1 to approve a resolution declining the city's participation, with council member Candi CdeBaca voting no.

  • CdeBaca suggested the city's system will most benefit its highest earners and make it harder to attract new city employees.
  • The city's program will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, a year ahead of the state's version.

Of note: Under the city's system, employees would get up to eight weeks of paid leave — less than the 12 weeks offered by the state.

  • A city employee, however, may still opt in to the state program as an individual.

What they're saying: Kathy Nesbitt, Denver's human resources director, recently told council members that the city's option is "significantly" better than the state's.

  • Denver's program provides full salary for eight weeks, while the state would only partially replace an employee's income over the 12-week span.
  • The state program would cost city employees a premium based on their wages, and the city would have to pitch in money as well. The city's option will be free to employees, Nesbitt said earlier this month.
  • But it will cost the city to replace an employee who isn't working, requiring on-call workers or paying others team members overtime to make up the difference of an on-leave employee.

By the numbers: The city employs more than 11,000 people.

  • A survey released last week based on anonymous responses from 7,477 employees showed that 91% find their work meaningful.
  • Yet 36% said they feel burned out, and just 41% think they are paid fairly.

The big picture: Nearly 20 cities have decided to opt out of the state program, including Aspen and Eagle, according to Denverite.

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