Public Comment Now Open on Paid Family and Medical Leave Program

Task Force Asking for Feedback on Possible New Program in Colorado.

The newly created Family and Medical Leave Task Force (the Task Force) is seeking public opinion on a proposed paid family and medical leave program for Colorado. The Task Force, which was created through 2019 legislation (SB19-188), is studying a program or policy that allows workers to take a specified amount of time off work for the birth or adoption of a new baby, to treat their own serious mental or physical medical illness, to care for a loved one with a serious mental or physical illness, to address certain needs arising from a family member’s active duty service, or because the worker is unable to work because the worker or a family member is the victim of abuse such as domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault; to receive some compensation while on leave; and return to their job after leave. 

While public comments may be submitted on other topics as well, SB 19-188 specifically directs the Task Force to consider the following factors as a part of developing recommendations for a paid family leave system:

  • Affordability for the lowest wage workers;
  • Equitability across workers of all incomes and classifications; 
  • Accessibility to workers least likely to have access to paid leave today;
  • Adequacy of the program;
  • The minimum duration of leave that meets evidence-based standards and wage replacement that is sufficient to allow the lowest wage workers to participate;
  • The purposes of the leave, including serious illness, caring for a loved one with a serious illness, bonding with a new child, and needs arising from military deployment and the effects of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault; 
  • Self-employed workers’ access to paid family and medical leave and a mechanism to allow self-employed workers to participate;
  • Eligibility requirements for workers to collect paid family and medical leave insurance;
  • The definition of family or family member for whom an individual may take leave for purposes of providing care; 
  • Job protection and other employment protections, including their effect on an individual’s ability to take leave; 
  • Duration of leave; 
  • Amount of the wage replacement; 
  • Maximum weekly wage replacement amount; 
  • Program funding structure;
  • The estimated degree to which an option for employers to provide their own paid family and medical leave benefits that meet the minimum statutory requirements of the state plan, may influence overall employer participation in the statewide plan; 
  • Program implementation;
  • The role of third-party vendors on program sustainability; 
  • The solvency of a paid family and medical leave fund under various models; 
  • The portability of paid family and medical leave benefits; 
  • The sustainability of a paid family and medical leave program; 
  • How a paid family and medical leave program would interact with other benefits; 
  • The likelihood and estimated degree to which paid family and medical leave benefits may broadly impact other existing leave benefits provided by employers (ex. vacation leave, sick leave, paid time off, etc.); and, 
  • A timeline that presumes a paid family and medical leave program that is established by July 1, 2020; begins education and outreach on January 1, 2022; establishes the funding stream on January 1, 2023; and starts paying benefits on January 1, 2024.

The completed study will include a thorough analysis of paid family and medical leave programs by experts in the field, actuarial and third-party studies on the feasibility of such a program for the state of Colorado, and comments collected from the public about the administration of the program in the state.  

All information collected through those efforts will shape an initial recommendation by the task force on a family and medical leave program for employees in the state. 

Submit your comments to the FAMLI Task Force at famlitaskforce.com.  You may also send in your comments by email to Admira Makas at admira.makas@state.co.us or mail to 251 E. 12th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203, Attn: Admira Makas. The deadline to submit written comments is Wednesday, September 25, 2019. All written comments will be made publicly available at famlitaskforce.com.