In 2020, Colorado voted to pass legislation to have a state-run paid family and medical leave act, like the federal FMLA labor law, but in this case, state-run instead of managed at the federal level and with different and additional employee benefits for Colorado workers.
FMLA is a federal labor law that guarantees employees of certain companies’ unpaid time off. To qualify for this benefit, the employee must have a qualifying reason, such as having a baby or needing to care for themselves due to an illness. If the employee is eligible for FMLA, their employer must protect their jobs.
Under FMLA, eligible employees who work for covered companies can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (time off) in one year. The employee does not have to take the entire time off consecutively.
Common reasons why employees take leave under FMLA are:
- The birth or adoption of a child
- Having a severe illness (FMLA covers the employee, the employee’s spouse, children and parents.)
- Active-duty military member deployment
- Caring for an injured veteran spouse, parent or child
When the employee is ready to return to work, the employer should have the same position available for the employee or a similar one. FMLA does not require employers to keep the employee’s position vacant while the employee is on leave.
Colorado’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) is a similar program. However, it is state-run. This program gives workers paid time off in certain circumstances, such as when they have a baby or are sick and need time to care for themselves.
Differences between FMLA and FAMLI
Four main differences between the two programs are:
- Colorado’s FAMLI program is paid time off. FMLA is unpaid time off.
- The size of the business does not exclude workers from eligibility under Colorado’s program.
- Self-employed employees can opt into Colorado’s program.
- FMLA covers certain companies only.
Under FAMLI, both employers and employees make contributions to the program. Since it is a new program, employees began seeing premium contributions taken from their paychecks on January 1, 2023.
The FAMLI program will start providing benefits on January 1, 2024. Most eligible employees will receive up to 12 weeks of time off. In the event of pregnancy or childbirth complications, employees could receive an additional four weeks.