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Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) Q&A

February 25, 2022

1.      What does HFWA stand for and when did it come into effect?

HFWA stands for Healthy Families and Workplaces Act. In2021, all Colorado employers regardless of size were required to comply with the Public Health Emergency Leave. Additionally, Colorado employers with 16 or more employees were required to comply with the Paid Sick Leave requirements effective January 1, 2021.  As of January 1, 2022, all Colorado employers must comply with all elements of HFWA.

2.      Are any Colorado employers exempt from the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act?

No CO employers are exempt from HFWA as of January 1, 2022.

3.      How much Paid Sick Leave (PSL) must employer’s provider per HFWA requirements?

1 hour of Paid Sick Leave (PSL) is accrued for every 30worked. Up to 48 hours per year regardless of their employment status (part-time, temporary, seasonal, etc.).  

4.      How much Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)must employers provide per HFWA requirements?

Full-time employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of PHEL. However, those working less than full-time are entitled to two weeks’ worth of leave depending on hours they normally work in a two-week period.

5.      Which is paid out first if there is a balance in both- Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) and Paid Sick Leave (PSL)?

PHEL is always paid out first, then PSL.

6.      Can an employer offer more paid sick leave than48 hours per year?

Yes, employers may offer more than a statute requires as long as it is consistently offered for the employee’s classification.

7.      Can an employer frontload PSL for HFWA? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Yes, the employer can front load up to 48 hours at the beginning of the year.  The advantage is that it relieves the burden of calculating the accrual.  However, if the employee uses all of the frontloaded time and quits prior to the allotted time normally required to accrue the leave, the employer cannot recoup this amount.

8.      Name one condition/need that qualifies an employee to use HFWA leave

·       A mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, including diagnosis or preventive care, that prevents them from working;

·       Domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment requiring them to seek health, relocation, legal, or other services;

·       To care for a family member experiencing a condition related to bullets 1 or 2; or

During a PHE, where a public official has closed the employee's workplace, or where the employee's child's school or place of care has been closed.

9.      Does unused accrued leave carry over to the next year? If so, how much?

Any unused accrued leave, up to 48 hours per benefit year, carries forward for use in a later year, but an employer need not allow use or accrual of over 48 hours in any one benefit year.


10.  On a scale of 1-10, how familiar are you with HFWA requirements?

We hope this HFWA quiz helped sparked conversation and facilitate comprehension of HFWA requirements. For any questions, please reach out to us.

For the latest information and references on HFWA, visit the CDLE website.

Lighthouse HR Support (LHRS) provides practical human resource information and guidance based upon our knowledge and experience in the industry and with our clients. LHRS services are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. LHRS services are designed to provide general information to human resources and/or business professionals regarding human resource concerns commonly encountered. Given the changing nature of federal, state and local legislation and the changing nature of court decisions, LHRS cannot and will not guarantee that the information is completely current or accurate. LHRS services do not include or constitute legal, business, international, regulatory, insurance, tax or financial advice. Use of our services, whether by phone, email or in person shall indicate your acceptance of this knowledge.

Written By:

Kelly Murphy

Kelly Murphy

Senior HR Business Partner

Kelly brings a wealth of knowledge with nearly 30 years of human resource experience. She provides expertise in various human resource categories, including employee relations, performance management, HR Form creation/review (employee handbooks, job descriptions, etc.), employee/management training, workplace investigations, etc. Her human resource certifications include PHR (Professional Human Resources) and SHRM-PC (Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional). 

Kelly attended Colorado Mesa University and Waldorf University, where she earned a degree in Human Resource Management and Business Administration with Summa Cum Laude honors. She was named Western Colorado Human Resource Association Professional of the Year, 2013, and currently serves on the Board of Directors. She also is a member of the WCHRA Skills Development Committee, the WCCA Education Committee, and the Members/Events Committee. She serves as an Ambassador for both the Fruita and Palisade Chamber of Commerce.