Colorado Labor Laws

March 13th 2024

This article covers:

What are Colorado Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Colorado Minimum Wage $14.42
Colorado Overtime Employers are required to pay 1.5 times the minimum wage for any time worked over 40 hours a week and 12 hours a day
($21.63 for minimum wage workers)
Colorado Breaks 10 min rest periods after 4 hours of work
30 min meal breaks if the shift exceeds 5 consecutive working hours

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Colorado?

When it comes to hiring, Colorado has its own state-level anti-discrimination rules in addition to the federal laws. The combined laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on a variety of factors including:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Aexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Out-of-work activities (as long as they are lawful)
  • AIDS/HIV status
  • Arrest or sealed conviction records
  • Civil Air Patrol membership
  • Marriage to a colleague
  • Credit information

In Colorado, just like in most states, the “employment-at-will” principle is followed. Simply put, it means that an employer can terminate the employment of an employee without any notice or explanation, and the same holds true for an employee quitting their job without prior notice.

In case an employee decides to resign, the employer is required to pay out all wages and compensation on the following regular payday. However, if the employer terminates the employment relationship, the outstanding wages need to be paid immediately, unless certain conditions are met, such as: if the employer’s accounting unit is not currently operational, the wages must be paid no later than 6 hours after the next workday or if the accounting unit is located off-site, the wage should be paid within 24 hours of its next business day. In addition, the employer has the right to audit the value of any properties that the employee has not returned or has damaged, and deduct these costs from the final paycheck, within a time-frame of 10 days.

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Colorado?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Colorado that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • COBRA Laws – Employees have the option to continue their health insurance coverage under the federally mandated Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) after certain life events, including job loss, reduction in work hours, job transition, or major life changes like death or divorce. Employers can pay for the health insurance at State of Colorado COBRA Medical Premiums rates for up to 36 months, making this a potentially viable option for those wishing to retain their health benefits.
  • OSHA Laws – Just like in any other state in the US, Colorado has the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to keep workers safe on the job. OSHA makes sure that employees are properly trained in handling dangerous substances and that proper safety measures are in place in hazardous work environments. Additionally, the Colorado OSHA can conduct inspections on-site to ensure that the requirements for work safety are being met.
  • Ban the Box Law The Colorado Chance to Compete Act, commonly known as Ban the Box law, applies to employers with more than 10 employees. This law restricts employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history during the early stages of job application, requesting information about it or stating in their job postings that those with a criminal history should not apply. Employers can ask for such information later in the hiring process. If candidates feel this law has been violated, they can use the Colorado Chance to Compete Complaint Form to file a formal complaint.
  • Equal Pay for Equal Work Act – To improve anti-discrimination laws, Colorado also implemented the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which mandates a compensation range in job postings, notification of promotion opportunities, and keeping records of job descriptions and wage rates. Remote workers hired by out-of-state employers are exempt from providing a salary range.
  • Wage Transparency Act – Colorado approved the Wage Transparency Act, prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees discussing wages with others and making it illegal to include a wage discussion ban in job contracts. There are exceptions to this act for employers exempt from the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Colorado Background Check Laws – In Colorado, employers have the right to conduct criminal background checks during the hiring process except during the initial application. This is in compliance with the Ban the Box law. However, regulations prohibit the use of employee consumer credit information for hiring unless there is a “substantial connection” to the employee’s job. While there may be restrictions, Colorado law recognizes instances where background checks are necessary for employment, instances where job tasks involve minors, health, money or use of law.
  • Employer Social Media Use Law – Under Colorado law, employers cannot ask employees to disclose their social media login credentials or change their privacy settings. Furthermore, job applicants or employees are not obligated to add anyone, including their employer, to their list of social media contacts.
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws – In Colorado, both public and private employees who report illegal activity by their employer are protected from retaliation under the Colorado Whistleblower, Anti-Retaliation, Non-Interference, and Notice-Giving Rules (WARNING). Public employees must file a written complaint within 30 days of retaliation and await resolution before suing. Exceptions to protection are if the employee knowingly reports false information or discloses confidential info. Private employees must first report to internal authorities before contacting outside authorities for protection.
  • Keep Jobs in Colorado Act – In an effort to boost employment rates and support workers in Colorado, the state has implemented the Keep Jobs in Colorado Act. This legislation mandates that 80% of labor hired for public projects that receive state, county, school district, or municipal funding must come from workers in Colorado. However, there are exceptions to this rule in cases where there is a lack of available Colorado labor or when it would hinder the completion of the project.

Colorado Payment Laws

To start off, let’s take a look at the laws that govern how much employees must be paid. We’ll delve into the details of minimum wage standards, including any exceptions that may apply.

What is the Minimum Payment in Colorado?

When it comes to how much workers can earn, the law says there’s a minimum that must be met. This amount is figured out using guidelines from the government, like federal, state, or city requirements. In Colorado, there are two types of these rules in effect: a state minimum wage that applies to everyone, and a local minimum wage that’s only for people working in the capital of Colorado, Denver. In this post, we’ll explore the regular and tipped minimum wage rates for both Colorado and Denver.

In Colorado, the minimum wage is determined by the state and is enforced by the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order (COMPS). The minimum wage in Colorado for nonexempt employees under the COMPS or Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is $14.42 per hour. The minimum wage increases annually, taking into account the Consumer Price Index for Colorado residents. For tipped workers, employers are permitted to pay a lower minimum wage, currently set at $11.40 per hour for employees receiving at least $30 a month in tips. However, employers can require tip-sharing among their employees.

In Denver, for employees who don’t receive tips, the minimum wage in the city is currently $18.29 per hour. It’s important to note that companies can’t use Colorado’s minimum wage to calculate pay rates. Meanwhile, tipped workers in Denver are also afforded a higher minimum wage rate compared to the state requirement, which stands at $15.27 per hour for them.  

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Colorado?

There are certain types of workers who are not covered by the COMPS and may therefore be exempted from minimum wage regulations. These types of workers include:

  • Administrative employees, executives or supervisors, professional employees
  • Outside salespeople
  • Proprietors
  • Taxi drivers
  • In-residence workers
  • Volunteers
  • Work-study students
  • Elected officials
  • Highly technical employees in computer-related occupations who earn high wages

Additionally, non-emancipated minors can be paid at a rate 15% lower than the statewide minimum wage.

The state of Colorado passed a law stating that subminimum wage payments will be gradually phased out by July 1, 2025. The subminimum wages are the wages that are less than the current minimum wage. This means that any employers paying individuals with disabilities less than minimum wage will be prohibited from doing so. The only exception is for employers who hold a certificate issued by the US Department of Labor prior to the act’s passing. These employers must provide a transition plan to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing detailing how they will phase out subminimum wage payments.  

What is the Payment Due Date in Colorado?

In Colorado, it’s up to employers and employees to agree on pay periods, but if no agreement is in place, Colorado wage laws require that payment must be made within one month or 30 days, whichever is longer. Employers are also required to schedule regular paydays within 10 days of a pay period ending, and provide pay notices outlining these schedules and details about where and when payments will be made. Accurate pay statements are also required and they must detail gross wages, withholdings, deductions, net wages, pay period dates, employee names or social security numbers, and employer names and addresses.

What are Colorado Overtime Laws?

The COMPS Order, mentioned above, applies to Colorado overtime requirements which, at times, overlap with the provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act. In such cases where the requirements may overlap, whichever law is most favorable to the employee applies.

In Colorado, once an employee goes beyond 40 hours in a workweek or 12 hours in a workday (even if those hours run consecutively), they need to be paid 1.5 times their regular pay rate. The workweek is defined as a fixed, recurring period of 168 hours, starting at the exact same time each week and determined by the employer.

For calculating a regular pay rate, employers need to consider compensation types like minimum wage tip credits, production bonuses, hourly rates, non-discretionary bonuses, commissions, and shift differentials. Certain types of compensation are excluded from the process including gifts, vacation and holiday pay, business expenses, sick leave pay, employer investment contributions, and jury duty pay.  

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Colorado?

Under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees earning less than $1,057.69 per week (or $55,000 annually) are entitled to receive overtime pay, regardless of whether they are considered managers or professionals.

Learn more in detail about Colorado Salaried Employees Laws and Colorado Overtime Laws.

What are Colorado Time Off/Break Laws?

In Colorado, there are two types of breaks: rest periods and meal breaks.

A rest period is a 10 minute break that is given after 4 hours of work, ideally. The number of required rest periods depends on the hours worked. If you work for 2 or fewer hours, you are not entitled to any rest periods. If you work more than 2 hours, but up to 6 hours, you are entitled to 1 rest period. If you work more than 6 hours, but up to 10 hours, you are entitled to 2 rest periods. If you work more than 10 hours, but up to 14 hours, you are entitled to 3 rest periods. If you work more than 14 hours, but up to 18 hours, you are entitled to 4 rest periods. If you work more than 18 hours, but up to 22 hours, you are entitled to 5 rest periods. If you work over 22 hours, you are entitled to 6 rest periods.  

What are Colorado Meal-Break Laws?

When an employee works for more than 5 consecutive hours, they are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes. During this time, employees should not be expected to perform any work duties and they will not be paid for their break time. However, if the situation requires the employee to eat while working, this time should be fully compensated. Ideally, the meal break should be scheduled for at least 1 hour after the start of the shift and 1 hour before the end, if feasible.  

What are Colorado Breastfeeding Laws?

Federal and Colorado state laws dictate that employers must allow new mothers who are breastfeeding a reasonable amount of break time to do so, as well as provide a private space that is not a bathroom for feeding the baby. This applies to both public and private employers and can be unpaid break time or the use of paid break or meal time. This is to ensure that mothers have the necessary accommodations to take care of their newborns while still maintaining their employment.  

Learn more in detail about Colorado Break Laws.

What are Colorado Leave Laws?

Colorado provides two type of leaves – required and non-required leaves.

What is Colorado Required Leave?

Let us quickly list out the different types of leaves that are mandatory in Colorado:

  • Sick Leave Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act requires employers to provide their employees with accrued sick leave, calculated as one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year. Employees can use this leave in the event of illness, injury, or a condition that affects their ability to work, as well as for diagnosis, treatment, and preventive care, such as vaccinations. In addition, employees may use this leave if they are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or harassment, or if they need to care for family members with any of the listed conditions or needs. Employers must pay the employee for the time off at their regular rate and cannot retaliate against the employee for taking this leave.
  • Public Health Emergency Leave (COVID-19 related) – Employers are still required to grant their employees public health emergency leave for various COVID-related reasons. These include falling sick with COVID-like symptoms, quarantining or isolating due to exposure, getting tested for COVID, experiencing side effects from the COVID vaccine, being unable to work due to health conditions that increase one’s susceptibility to COVID, and fulfilling family needs related to COVID, such as caring for a sick family member or dealing with school or childcare closures. Moreover, this leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate.
  • Jury Duty Leave – As a requirement, employers are obligated to extend jury duty leave to their employees without risking their job security. During the time off, the worker should receive payment at their normal compensation rates, provided that it doesn’t surpass 50$ per day, and there is no alternative arrangement between the employer and employee.
  • Voting Time Leave – Regarding voting time, the employer is obligated to allow a two-hour leave for their employees to cast their ballots, unless one of two situations arises: the employee failed to request leave at least one day in advance, or the employee has at least a three-hour window to vote before and after their shift.
  • Military Leave – If you’re serving in the National Guard or military reserves, you’re eligible for a leave of up to 15 days without any negative effects on your job.
  • Emergency Response Leave – In Colorado, local authorities allow “qualified volunteers” to request up to 15 days of leave per year in order to respond to emergencies. This is a helpful policy for those who want to assist in emergency situations while still maintaining their employment.
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Leave – Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault have the right to take up to three days off in a year to obtain a restraining order, and get legal and medical counseling, and treatment. It is mandated that all employers with 50 or more employees provide this option to their employees.

What is Colorado Non-Required Leave?

  • Bereavement Leave – A company is not obligated to offer bereavement leave unless it is stated in its policy.
  • Vacation Leave – In Colorado, it is not mandatory for employers to provide their workers with vacation time. Still, they are allowed to offer this benefit and choose to enforce a “use it or lose it” policy that requires employees to use their vacation days by a predetermined date.
  • Holiday Leave – In the absence of established company policies, employers may not be obliged to grant leave for state holidays.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

Learn more in detail about Colorado Leave Laws.

What are Colorado Child Labor Laws?

In Colorado, regulations for minors’ working conditions are specified by the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act (CYEOA). The definition of “Minors” in this act includes any person under the age of 18, excluding those who have either cleared their high school diploma or scored well in the general educational development (GED) test. Colorado doesn’t provide any laws on requesting emancipation before nineteen years of age.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Colorado?

In Colorado, there are different rules for minors under 16, and those aged 16-17 when it comes to working hours. For a clear outlook, we created this table:

Age Group Weekly Work Hours Limitations Daily Work Hours Limitations Weekly Work Hours Limitations during School Times of Day Restrictions During School Year Employment Permit Required
Under 16 Years Maximum of 40 hours per week No more than 3 hours on school days and 8 hours on non-school days No more than 18 hours of work during a school week. Can work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with extended hours till 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day Yes, for school day work
16-17 Years Maximum of 40 hours per week No more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period N/A No restrictions on times of day for work during the school year No

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Colorado?

Colorado has established laws to prohibit the employment of minors in certain occupations due to the high level of danger involved. These occupations include:

  • Handling explosives
  • Operating high-pressure steam boilers and high-temperature water boilers
  • Mining
  • Logging
  • Quarrying
  • Operating power-driven machinery

Minors are rightfully protected from the potential harm of working in these dangerous positions by state law.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.