Jan 2, 2024 - News

How to claim Colorado's new paid family and medical leave benefits

A paper clip illustration

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Most Colorado workers can now receive paid time off for family and medical reasons.

Driving the news: Colorado's billion-dollar paid family leave experiment debuted Monday and more than 5,200 people already have applied to receive the new benefits.

  • The state has approved about 60% of the claims so far, and the first payments will go out Jan. 8, according to the state labor department.
  • The vast majority of the claims — 68% — are related to a new child, while 25% are related to a serious health condition.

Why it matters: Colorado is the first state in the nation to implement a paid leave program through a voter-approved ballot question, and the Polis administration is touting the impact on low-income workers who didn't previously have the benefits.

How it works: Eligible employees — people who have met the $2,500 wage threshold within about a year — can receive up to 12 weeks in partial wages to care for a loved one or address a health issue. Those who experience childbirth complications can get an additional four weeks.

  • Workers who make $500 a week can receive up to 90% of their weekly pay, while earners with wages at $3,000 a week are capped at 37% of their salary.
  • Employers who participate must hold the job for employees who worked for at least 180 days prior to taking the leave.

Of note: Colorado workers and employers began paying a portion of their wages — 0.9% split evenly — into the system in 2023, and it has amassed $775 million, the Colorado Sun reports.

Yes, but: Roughly 80% of local governments opted out from the program — including Denver and Denver Public Schools.

  • Employers who offer their own paid leave programs at the same level also are exempt.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify the eligibility requirements for paid leave.

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