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paid time off in Colorado

Colorado Employers Should Know These State Time Off Rules

The United States is the only modern economy that doesn’t require employers to provide paid time off (PTO). In Colorado, employers don’t need to offer vacation and employees do not have a right to paid time off; however, employers often choose to offer PTO to be competitive in their industry and attract and keep talented workers. 

Those who decide to provide vacation must follow state laws to avoid potential legal action by the state or their employees. Additionally, there are times when the law requires employers to provide unpaid leave for employees to fulfill certain duties or recover from illness. 

If you’re unsure of what Colorado law has to say about paid time off, turn to a knowledgeable employment lawyer for help. Attorney Nathan Davidovich has served employers throughout Colorado for more than 55 years, helping them navigate complex employment issues and create company manuals that guide new and veteran employees alike. 

Do I Owe My Employees Time Off if They Quit or I Dismiss Them?

The short answer to this is: yes. Under the Colorado Wage and Protection Act, employees who leave a company before they use earned vacation must be paid for the hours. Under Colorado law, vacation time that is earned in accordance with any agreement is considered wages or compensation. So, once an employee earns vacation time, it’s considered “wages,” and he or she cannot lose it. 

When Am I Required to Provide Time Off Work in Colorado?

Medical Leave

Colorado workers may not be entitled to paid time off, but the law provides that they may take leave under specific circumstances. One of the most well-known instances for unpaid leave in the U.S. is for medical reasons. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides:

  • Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for eligible employees to care for a severely ill spouse, parent, or child; or for themselves to recuperate from a severe illness or injury or bond with a new child.
  • Up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave for employees who have a family member who suffered or exacerbated an illness or injury in the military.

The FMLA applies to employers in all 50 states and to employers with at least 50 employees. Employees are only eligible if they’ve worked for their employer for at least one year. They must also have accrued 1,250 working hours in the year leading up to the leave.

In Colorado, FMLA also allows employees to take time off for:

  • Caring for a domestic partner or same-sex spouse.
  • Adopting a child. Couples who adopt have the same right to parental leave as parents who give birth to biological children.
  • Participating in their child’s school activities. Employees at companies with 50 or more workers may take no more than 18 hours off work (unpaid) to attend academic events.

Jury Duty

Employers must allow employees to take time off to participate in jury duty. In Colorado, employers may not make demands of their employees that would interfere with their ability to serve on a jury. Employers must pay their employees regular wages of up to $50 a day for the employee’s first three days of jury duty. After the first three days, jury duty is unpaid. Special rules apply to exempt employees.


Employees in Colorado have the right to take time off work for voting. Employers must provide up to 2 hours of paid time off to employees who are eligible to vote, though they may choose when the employee takes these hours. Employees who have at least 3 hours off work while the polls are open do not have the right to take 2 hours of paid time off to go vote in Colorado.

Military Leave

Employees who take leave to fulfill military service have a right to be reinstated. Under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, employees who take up to 5 years off work for military service have the right to continue working for their employer in the same position. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against potential employees due to their military service. When employees return from service, they may only be fired for good cause for up to one year after they return, even if they were previously at-will employees.

Employees in Colorado who are called to active state service in the Colorado National Guard are entitled to unlimited leave and reinstatement. Members of the U.S. military or the Colorado National Guard may also receive up to 15 days of unpaid leave per year for training.   

Domestic Violence

Employers with at least 50 employees in Colorado must give employees time off for domestic violence issues like:

  • Seeking a civil protection order
  • Receiving medical treatment or counseling
  • Obtaining new housing
  • Seeking legal assistance or attending court proceedings

Make Your Company a Great Place to Work in Colorado

With the help of an experienced employment lawyer in Denver, you can establish company policies that adhere to all state and federal laws while making it a preferred place to work in Colorado. Find out how attorney Nathan Davidovich of The Davidovich Law Firm LLC can work with you to develop unique, lawful company policies that boost your employees’ productivity. 

Find out how our firm can help by calling (303) 825-5529 or complete our contact form to have Nathan reach out to you personally.