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Are you in compliance with 2020 changes to wage and hour laws?

This year brings some of the most significant changes to Colorado wage and hour law in decades with the implementation of Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Order 36. The first conditions of these new requirements took effect on March 16, 2020, affecting many Colorado employers in new ways.

Who does COMPS Order 36 protect?

Under the previous Minimum Wage Order, only select industries qualified for wage and hour protections in Colorado. However, the new COMPS Order 36 applies to all Colorado employees barring a special exclusion.

Some of these exclusions include:

  • Salaried administrative, executive, and professional employee
  • Salespersons
  • Business owners
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Interstate transport workers
  • In-residence workers
  • Highly technical computer-related professions

What else did COMPS Order 36 change?

The full list is extensive, however, the changes to requirements for employee breaks and lunches are crucial for Colorado employers to understand. As in previous Minimum Wage Orders, employers must provide an unpaid, uninterrupted 30-minute mealtime for shifts exceeding 5 hours. However, there is a new provision included in COMPS Order 36 that the meal period cannot occur during the first or last hour of the shift.

The new Order also included some revisions to the rules for rest periods. Employers must still provide one 10-minute rest period every 4 hours; however, the employee does not have to take the rest. If the employer fails to provide a break or requires the employee to work during it, the employee must be paid under the new requirements. Note that there is no minimum wage and hour claim size under COMPS Order 36, which means an employee could make a claim on the sole basis of missed breaks.

What does expanded coverage for workers mean for Colorado business owners?

These expanded coverage and increased protections mean that more Colorado business owners will be vulnerable to potential employment litigation for wage and hour lawsuits. It would be wise to familiarize yourself not only with COMPS Order 36 and ensure compliance but also to take this opportunity to revise official policies, training practices and your employee handbook, if necessary. All these components can play a role in employment litigation.