Leave and Job Protection for Volunteer Emergency Management, Emergency Services and Disaster Workers
On April 24, 2008, Governor Bill Ritter signed House Bill 08-1097 into law; now located in Colorado Revised Statutes §24-33.5-822-828 following the reorganization in House Bill 12-1283. The bill provides leave and job protection for volunteer emergency management, emergency services, and disaster workers under certain circumstances.
The bill went into effect August 6, 2008. Now, Civil Air Patrol and other volunteer emergency workers working for qualified volunteer organizations, who are requested to respond to a disaster emergency, will be entitled to take leave for up to 15 working days each year. Private sector employees will be entitled to unpaid leave and government workers will be entitled to paid leave. All are protected against loss of job, seniority, retirement benefits, rank, etc., while on such leave.
In order to be qualified, volunteer organizations must be certified to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Office of Emergency Management by a sheriff, local government, state agency, or by a local emergency planning committee (LEPC). The certification attests that the organization and the sheriff or director of a local government, state agency, or LEPC have developed and signed a memorandum of understanding covering use of the organization and its volunteers during disaster emergencies.
Required Forms and Applications
- Application for Enrollment on the Qualified Volunteer Organization List
- Certification of Individual Volunteer Service in a Disaster Emergency
Volunteer Organization Nomination Process
- A county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency may nominate a volunteer organization to be included on the DHSEM qualified volunteer organization list.
- The county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency and volunteer organization must have a valid Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)that meets the criteria found in 24-33.5-822) to be eligible for submission.
- Nominations for Enrollment on the Volunteer Organization List form must be completed and signed by an official representative of County Sheriff, local government jurisdiction, Colorado Local Emergency Planning Committee or state agency director.
- Nominations must be submitted by email to the Colorado Volunteer Agency Liaison (VAL) with email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
- It is the responsibility of the Colorado VAL to review nominations to ensure they meet the following statutory criteria.
- The nominating entity is county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency.
- There is a valid MOU (executed within the previous 12 months) in place between the nominating entity and the volunteer agency to assist the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency in providing services as required.
- If national or statewide training and certification standards exist for a certain organization or certain type of volunteer, the existing standards shall be used in the memorandum of understanding.
- All nominations meeting the above criteria will be submitted to the Director for approval.
- Approved nominations will be added by the VAL to the qualified volunteer organization list within 30 days of approval (Google Spreadsheet and DHSEM website). The list will be posted on the DHSEM website at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dhsem/volunteer-workers . A copy of the approved nomination will be sent to the nominating entity and a copy retained by the Colorado VAL.
- Qualified volunteer organizations must be renominated every two years from the date the organization was approved.
- The Colorado VAL will monitor all current applications for expiration. The Colorado VAL will send a reminder to qualified volunteer organizations 180 days before the expiration of their designation.
After expiration, the nomination forms will be destroyed and a CDPS Certificate of Records Disposal will be submitted to the DHSEM Records Management Liaison.
Verification of Service Process
- Upon request, the Director will provide verification that a qualified volunteer provided volunteer services during a disaster or an organized training exercise, drill, or class in preparation for the disaster.
- A qualified volunteer must submit an email detailing their eligibility for the verification under this procedure.
- The Colorado VAL will verify the information and if eligible the Director will sign a Verification form to be provided to the qualified volunteer to provide proof of such service to his or her employer pursuant to section 24-33.5-824 (2).
- The verification will be provided an eligible qualified volunteer no later than 10 days after submission of the request.
Once the organization is listed, a volunteer member will be protected when he or she performs satisfactorily in a disaster emergency at the request of a sheriff, local or state agency, or LEPC and provides a certification of that from his or her own organization of the employing government.
Although they may be eligible under this law as well, volunteer firefighters are provided job protection for fire calls under another statute (CRS 31-30-1131). Red Cross volunteers eligible for disaster leave as state employees will be provided with a maximum total of 15 working days leave under this law and the Red Cross leave provisions.
No employer will be required to grant leave to more than 20 percent of his employees at any one time, and employees deemed essential to the employer’s operations and income or disaster services may likewise be denied leave.
The bill also removes some limitations on sovereign immunity protections to governments and volunteers within the Disaster Emergency Act.
If you have questions regarding this bill or the required procedures, call the Office of Emergency Management at 720-852-6600.
List of Qualified Volunteer Organizations
View the list of qualified volunteer organizations as received by DHSEM between 2009 and 2015.