Governor Polis Announces Paid Family Medical Leave for State Employees
DENVER - Today, Governor Polis announced that effective January 2021, state employees will be eligible for Paid Family Medical Leave program to care for a loved one, welcome a new child into the home, or recover from a serious illness.
“One of the core values of my administration is supporting families. That is why I have championed lowering the cost of healthcare with programs like reinsurance, free full day kindergarten and expanding access to preschool. It is also why many of my senior and cabinet level positions are held by women, many of whom are parenting young children,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I am proud to say that Paid Leave will now be a reality for State Employees, many of whom have worked day and night during this past year to ensure that we can save the lives of Coloradans and come out stronger from this public health crisis.”
“Expanded benefits for the people that stand on the front lines of the COVID response, no matter the color of their skin or the size of their paychecks, gets to the heart of Colorado WINS’ partnership with the state. When we work together to protect all workers and provide access to paid leave, state employees can better protect their communities, their families and themselves,” said Colorado WINS Executive Director Hilary Glasgow. “This is a good step in the right direction and we look forward to negotiating our first contract with the state with an equally collaborative spirit. We know the best way to take care of Coloradans is to take care of our state employees who make the way for a vibrant and flourishing Colorado.”
“The majority of Coloradans support Paid Family Medical Leave and I’m proud that Colorado is putting its workers first. This policy ensures that Coloradans don’t have to choose between their loved ones and their livelihood, or between their own health and their paycheck,” said Senator Faith Winter, D-Westminster. “The return on this investment is significant and I applaud Governor Polis for implementing this measure ahead of the statewide insurance program.”
“I am excited the state is able to provide this important benefit to our hardworking state employees for the next calendar year,” said Senator Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City and Chair of the Joint Budget Committee. “I appreciate that the administration and Colorado WINS consulted with us on extending this benefit to Colorado state workers.”
State employees currently do not have paid family leave benefits and this will be the first time this benefit will exist for state employees. The source of the funding for the program is the Group Benefits Plan Reserve Fund, which pays for health, life and dental benefits for state employees. That fund is currently accruing fund balance as a result of decreased medical utilization due to the pandemic. Sufficient funds exist to pay for this benefit in 2021. In future years the administration and WINS may jointly pursue resources from the General Assembly to pay for the program as currently envisioned, or in a modified form.
Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative creating an insurance program that will allow employers in the State to offer Family Medical Leave Insurance beginning in 2024. The State of Colorado is taking immediate steps to offer a paid benefit to State employees effective January 1, 2021.