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. The required forms include:
- Application for Enrollment on the Qualified Volunteer Organization List
- Certification of Individual Volunteer Service in a Disaster Emergency
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% 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.