A Leave Manager’s Guide to the Colorado Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI) 

October 13, 2023

In November 2020, Colorado Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) became the first ballot-initiated paid family and medical leave program in the United States. Benefits will be payable starting January 1, 2024. The aim of this program is to provide workers in Colorado access to up to 12 weeks (16 weeks in some situations) of paid leave to care for loved ones, bond with their infants, manage a serious health condition, make arrangements for a military deployment, and more.

To help employers with team members residing in Colorado, we have created this quick reference guide. Here’s what you need to know and how to stay compliant.

Who is eligible for FAMLI?  

Most Colorado employees become eligible to take paid leave after they have earned at least $2,500 in wages within the State within the last four calendar quarters. This may include work performed for multiple employers. Self-employed workers (1099 or contract workers) may also be eligible if they have opted into coverage and live and work in Colorado.

What new protections does FAMLI grant employees?  

FAMLI offers wage replacement and job protected leave once an employee has been at their employer for more than 180 days (about six months). The law also offers protection against retaliation and discrimination for those who exercise rights under this program.

Is FAMLI paid?  

FAMLI wage replacement benefits will be paid at a rate of up to 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage with lower wage earners receiving a higher percentage. Benefits are calculated on a sliding scale using the individual’s average weekly wage from the previous five calendar quarters in relation to the average weekly wage for the state of Colorado and may increase over time. Benefits are capped at $1,100 per week in 2024 and may be adjusted annually.

Do employers have to pay for FAMLI leave? If so, how does that work?  

Most employees will see a FAMLI wage deduction on their pay stubs. However, some employers may choose to cover their employees’ portion as an added benefit. The program is a social insurance. The State pays your employee (the claimant) a portion of their weekly wages directly through a debit card or direct deposit.

Employers are not responsible for the salary or wages while someone is on leave unless there are other paid benefits available at the employer. However, any portion of the employee’s health insurance benefits normally covered are required to continue. Employers may choose to require the employee to continue to pay their share of their contribution to these benefits while they are on leave.

Does FAMLI interact with FMLA?  

FAMLI leave that also qualifies as FMLA leave runs concurrently with the FMLA. If an employee requests FMLA leave, the employer must notify the employee that they may be eligible for paid FAMLI leave, and let the employee know how to apply for benefits.

Does FAMLI offer job protection?  

FAMLI offers paid job protected leave once an employee has been at their employer for more than 180 days (about six months). The law also offers protection against retaliation. Please note that it is possible for an employee to receive their pay benefits and not qualify for job protection under the law if eligibility is not met.

It’s important to note that because the FAMLI Act allows local government employers to opt out of the program. Employees of these local governments may not have the same job protections under the FAMLI Act

What leave options does the FAMLI provide employees? 

Individuals can use FAMLI leave to take time away from work in order to:

  • Care for a new child, including adopted and fostered children
  • Care for themselves, if they have a serious health condition
  • Care for a family member’s serious health condition
  • Make arrangements for a family member’s military deployment
  • Address the immediate safety needs and impact of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

What documents can employers ask employees to provide? 

Instructions on how to apply for benefits will be available on famli.colorado.gov in the last quarter of 2023. Employers should rely on their current compliant leave and accommodation practices absent direction from FAMLI.

When does an employee need to give notice of their FAMLI leave?  

Applications may be submitted in advance when the need for qualified leave is foreseeable. When the need for leave is foreseeable, individuals must provide 30 days notice prior to the start of their planned leave to their employer when practicable. When the need for leave is unforeseeable, individuals have up to 30 days after the leave has begun to apply for FAMLI benefits.

How can your HR team ensure they are complaint with FAMLI? 

  • Ensure payroll deductions are being directed toward FAMLI.
  • Provide eligibility and application notices to employees as new hires and when they provide notice of need for leave, which may qualify under the FAMLI program.
  • Check for policy alignment with other employer leave benefits.
  • Review the FAMLI toolkit.
  • Consider leveraging a leave management system like AbsenceSoft that is kept up-to-date by leave experts so your teams stays compliant with laws like FAMLI from day one.

To learn more about how AbsenceSoft automatically calculates eligibility for and tracks over 180 leave and accommodations laws, schedule a demo today.