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Colorado workers must be offered paid sick leave starting next year

Senate Bill 205 also will require employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to people infected with coronavirus or who must care for a loved one who catches the disease

Jesse Paul
The Colorado Sun
Brendan Hartigen works alongside his father, Sean Hartigen, filling water glasses for customers at The Last Steep Bar & Grill on Elk Avenue in Crested Butte, Colorado on August 6, 2019. Sean buses tables and does whatever other tasks are given to him. Sean and his wife Sarah, who co-own The Last Steep employ several pre-high-schoolers—friends of their 14-year-old son, Brendan. While there are many available jobs in this resort town at the base of Mt.Crested Butte, workers can't find affordable places to live. Rising real estate prices, high rents and home homers leasing their homes out as short term rentals to vacationers has caused a housing shortage. Local high school teen agers, who already have places to live, are hired by businesses to help make up for the shortage of workers. Under current Colorado law, 14-year-olds can work non-hazardous jobs in retail, offices and restaurants. The law specifies that they can also operate elevators.Twelve-year-olds can babysit, sell things door-to-door, garden, and do agricultural work. At the age of 9, kids can shine shoes, deliver handbills, garden or caddy.The law also allows children of business owners to help out in family businesses at any age. Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun
Dean Krakel/The Colorado Sun

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed into law a bill that will give nearly every Colorado worker the ability to earn up to six paid sick leave days annually starting next year.

It’s considered one of the most progressive sick leave policies in the country and comes in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

Senate Bill 205 also will require all employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to people infected with COVID-19 or who must care for a loved one who catches the disease. The time can also be used to care for a child or dependent family member whose normal place-of-care has been shuttered because of the pandemic.

“Sixty percent of Coloradans already have some kind of paid sick leave,” said state Sen. Jeff Bridges, a Greenwood Village Democrat and prime sponsor of the measure. “The other 40% are the ones we encounter most whenever we leave our homes. They tend to work in restaurants, retail and service industry jobs that put them in close contact with all of us. And those tend to be the kind of jobs where people can’t afford to take an unpaid day off.” 

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