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Colorado Family And Medical Leave


Public employees in the State of Colorado may be entitled to leave under the Department of Labor and Employment's Family Medical Leave policy. Below is a brief summary of this policy.

If you are considering taking leave,  it is advisable to consult with your Human Resource Office for additional details - preferably with a supervisor so you have a better chance of receiving accurate information.

Who Is Eligible?

You are eligible for Family/Medical Leave if you have been a permanent employee of the State of Colorado (on the state payroll) for at least one year as of the date your leave is to begin. The one year requirement includes time employed by different state departments. The time does not have to be consecutive.

You must also complete a "State of Colorado Leave/Absence Request" form.

How Much Leave Am I Entitled To?

An eligible employee is entitled to up to 520 hours (approximately 13 work weeks) of leave each rolling twelve month period measured backward from the date the employee goes on leave.

Eligible employees working less than full time are entitled to a prorated amount of leave. For example, employees working half-time are entitled to 260 hours per fiscal year.

You may take more than 13 works of leave IF your manager approves it. However, some of the benefits may be different. For example, you will have to take over paying both yours and your employer's share of insurance premiums. Also you may not be entitled to return to the identical position you held prior to leave.

What Are Legitimate Reasons For Leave?

  1. The birth and care of your child (limitation: leave must be completed within 1 year of the child's birth);
  2. Placement and care of an adopted or foster child (limitation: leave must be completed within 1 year of placement);
  3. The serious health condition of an employee's parent, child or spouse (the employee may use this time to provide physical care or psychological comfort);
    An employee's own serious health condition.

Who Is A "Parent, Child Or Spouse"?

The definition in the federal Family/Medical Leave Act is slightly different than the definition used for state sick leave. A parent does not include in-laws. A spouse includes common law marriage, but not domestic partners. A child is a son or daughter under age 18 (unless otherwise covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act).

What Is A Serious Health Condition?

A "serious health condition" is an illness, injury, impairment, physical or mental condition requiring inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

Do I Need A Note From My Doctor?

You must provide a medical certificate from your doctor for absences of more than three consecutive, full working days. Your employer may require a second medical opinion. If the second opinion conflicts with your doctor's opinion, your employer may require a third opinion which would be binding. The second and third opinions would be at your employer's expense.

Is My Job Protected While I Am On Leave?

Upon returning from leave, you are entitled to be restored to your former position or to an "equivalent" position. An "equivalent" position is one with the same pay grade, benefits, work schedule, approximate geographic location, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Will I Be Paid During Leave?

The leave policy is an unpaid program. However, you must use any paid leave you have (such as sick leave or annual leave) during your Family/Medical Leave. For example, if you have one week of paid sick leave, you must use up that time and then the remaining 12 weeks of Family/Medical Leave will be unpaid.

Am I Required to Give My Employer Notice Before Taking Leave?

Yes, you are expected to give at least 30 days advance written notice before you leave is to begin. However, if advance notice is impossible (e.g. an emergency medical situation), you are expected to give verbal notice within two business days after learning of your need for leave. You must also follow up with a written confirmation of your request for leave.

Am I Required to Give Notice Before I Return To Work?

If you have been on leave for more than 30 days, you must complete a Fitness-to-Return Certificate. Even if you have been on leave for less than 30 days, your employer may require you to complete the Certificate.

What Happens to My Health Insurance While I Am On Leave?

If you are using accrued paid leave time (such as sick or annual days) while on Family/Medical Leave, then your health insurance will continue as usual. However, if you have used up your paid days, then you must pay your share of the insurance premium in order for coverage to continue.

Researched and written by:

Lisa Gerson, Esq.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP, New York, NY

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