Colorado is the latest state which will begin paying out family and medical leave benefits for eligible employees in the new year. Under its Family and Medical Leave Insurance (“FAMLI”) program, eligible employees may begin their applications now for anticipated leave in 2024 in the My FAMLI+ online portal, which Coloradans will use to apply for benefits, submit required serious health condition forms, review claims status and manage their benefits.
Under the program, employees are entitled to up to twelve (12) weeks of paid leave across a rolling annual calendar year for a qualifying reason with the possibility for leave to be extended to sixteen (16) weeks for a serious health condition related to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. Benefits will become payable effective January 1, 2024.
Key details for Colorado employers:
- private sector employers in Colorado must provide paid family and medical leave to their Colorado employees, whether through the state-run plan or through a private plan which provides equal or greater benefits and protections.
- Employers must post the required Program Notice telling their employees about FAMLI benefits and employee rights and duties thereunder. Employers must also provide a copy of the notice to all remote employees.
- Employers will use the FAMLI+ Employer portal to manage their FAMLI accounts.
How is FAMLI determined?
Employer and employee contributions are based on 0.9% of wages. Recently, the FAMLI program provided clarifying guidance on the new definition of wages subject to the FAMLI premium. FAMLI “wages” will mean “gross wages” and will include typical employer compensation. Examples of gross wages include:
- Hourly wage
- Piece rate
- Employer-provided paid leave (PTO, sick, vacation, etc.)
- Disability benefits paid by the employer and not by a third-party
- Parental leave paid by the employer and not by a third party
- The value of lodging or meals used as a credit toward the minimum wage.
Exclusions from the definition of wages include:
- Severance payments
- Employer contributions to, or payouts from, a deferred compensation plan
- Pensions or retirement plan payments
- Expense reimbursements (mileage, travel, moving, per diems, etc.)
- Non-monetary payments (except lodging or meals to the extent they’re used as a credit toward the minimum wage)
This definition will become effective January 1, 2024 and will be used to determine FAMLI premiums and benefit amounts.
How is FAMLI headcount determined?
Employers may determine their employee headcount by calculating the number of employees on their payroll for a total of twenty (20) or more calendar workweeks in the preceding calendar year.
Employers must report their headcount to the Division of Family and Medical Leave insurance upon initial registration, and then annually thereafter.
This headcount is used to determine whether the employer will be subject to the employer share of the FAMLI premium.
What is the employer contribution for FAMLI?
Employers with ten (10) or more total employees nationwide (please see state guidance on how to count nationwide employees) are required to contribute 0.45% (employer’s share) of an employee’s wages, with the employee contributing the other 0.45% via standard payroll deduction.
Employers with less than ten (10) nationwide employees are not required to pay the employer share.
For employers with a nationwide workforce, employers are only required to pay premiums for those employees who are localized in Colorado.
What are the eligibility requirements and qualifying reasons for FAMLI?
In order to be eligible for paid leave, employees must have earned at least $2,500.00 during the previous five (5) quarters.
Qualifying reasons for leave under the FAMLI program include the following: parental bonding leave (birth, adoption and foster placement), medical leave to care for an employee’s own serious health condition, medical leave to care for a family member’s serious health condition, qualifying exigency related to a family member being on active duty, and for certain purposes related to an employee or the employee’s family member experiencing domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking.
How can employees use FAMLI, and what are the benefit amounts?
Employees are not required to utilize earned paid time off before taking leave under the FAMLI program, but may choose to supplement or “top off” their benefit with accrued paid time off in order to receive the full amount of their customary weekly wage while on leave. Wage replacement benefits will be paid at a rate of 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage with lower wage earners receiving a higher percentage. Benefits are calculated on a sliding scale using the individual’s average weekly wage for the state of Colorado. The maximum benefit amount is presently capped at $1,100 per week.
Please visit the Colorado Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance for additional information and resources for employers including FAQS, information regarding private plans, leave eligibility, and how-to videos regarding how to register, how to manage the FAMLI + Employer account, and how to apply for self-insured or carrier-insured private plans, among other things.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.