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New year brings key employment law changes to Colorado

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2021 | Employment Law

Employment law is a frequent topic of discussion in Colorado. This is true from the perspective of employees and employers. As time passes, lawmakers seek to improve the circumstances for workers and ensure that employers are adhering to the law in various employment matters. With the dawn of a new year, substantive changes are now in place. It is important for workers to be aware of them so their rights are adhered to. In some instances, employers might make mistakes due to a lack of in-depth knowledge about these laws or could flout them entirely. For any challenge or disagreement that arises, it is important to have legal help from the start.

Wages, sick leave and unemployment are all updated for 2021

Changes to wages, the details of sick leave and unemployment insurance are all changed with the new year. Regarding wages, there is now an equal pay for equal work requirement. This means that when there is a promotion within a company or an available job is posted, there cannot be wage discrimination if employees are doing the same job. Gender wage disparity has been a hot button issue in recent years. It has been somewhat obscured by the #metoo movement and other circumstantial challenges that workers have faced, but that does not make it any less important to address.

Employers must place a salary range on the job offer so prospective employees will be aware of the compensation beforehand. When there is a chance at promotion within a company, this too must be posted. Employees who were previously concerned about sanctions for talking about their pay no longer need to worry about that as the law has provisions to prevent retaliation. Employers cannot ask employees about their salary history.

With sick leave, employees now automatically receive 48-hours’ sick time. The ongoing pandemic was the impetus of the change. When employees start a job, they will now immediately accumulate sick leave. If it is unused in a calendar year, it can be carried to the next year with a maximum of 48 hours. In the past, employees felt compelled to come to work even if they were ill because they needed to get paid and were fearful of losing the job. With illnesses that are easily transferred from one person to another, this could be considered a contributing factor to rapid spread. Workers who are accorded time off are more likely to stay home when they are under the weather and are not in fear losing their job. Employers cannot retaliate if a worker uses sick leave.

Regarding unemployment insurance, this too emanated from concerns about the pandemic. A growing segment of workers can get unemployment. They include immunocompromised employees, those who are taking care of children whose schools are closed, and workplaces that did not adhere to COVID protocols and compromised safety.

Workers should know their rights and take steps if these rights are violated

These new laws impact workers and employers alike and goes beyond the type of job they do whether it is blue or white collar, high or low wage. While it may be difficult to find positives with the ongoing health issues gripping the nation, changes that have been implemented and are set to improve workers’ lives are a benefit. Still, people may not be fully knowledgeable or remain fearful of using their new rights because they do not want to be viewed unfavorably in the workplace. If there are violations whether it is related to the above-listed changes or other potential problems like discrimination, sexual harassment, unpaid wages and more, it may be useful to have assistance from an experienced employment legal professional.