Colorado Maternity Leave: Everything You Need to Know
Employees working and residing in Colorado are entitled to Colorado maternity leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which gives you the right to take unpaid leave for specific reasons. 8 min read
What is Colorado Maternity Leave?
Employees working and residing in Colorado are entitled to Colorado maternity leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which gives you the right to take unpaid leave for specific reasons. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prevents your employer from singling you out because of your pregnancy. In some cases, this may also give you the right to take time off work.
The state of Colorado has a separate law that requires companies to offer "reasonable accommodations" to any pregnant employee, which often might be as simple as providing a new chair. Colorado's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act also gives pregnant women the right to reasonable job accommodations.
Reasonable accommodations might include longer or more frequent breaks during the workday, light duty responsibilities, job restructuring, modified scheduling, or equipment modification.
For example, if you are dealing with severe morning sickness early in your pregnancy or you are otherwise unable to work a full day as you near the end of your pregnancy, you might be eligible for an altered schedule that allows for time off or a shorter workday.
Although FMLA leave is unpaid, you might be able to work with your employer to use any accrued paid leave, including paid time off, vacation days, or time days. This will ensure you continue to get paid during your Colorado maternity leave.
Your boss might be able to offer maternity leave benefits or short-term disability insurance if needed. Talk to your manager or your human resources representative to see which options are available. These may also be listed in your employee handbook.
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits any type of employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex, including pregnancy, childbirth, and any related medical conditions
Unpaid Leave During Pregnancy
Although Colorado does not have any specific state laws requiring businesses to provide time off during pregnancy, there are a couple of federal laws that can help:
- the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period for pregnancy and parental leave, among other things. If you qualify, you can use FMLA to take time off as your due date approaches and you prepare to give birth. FMLA will also cover you after the birth for childcare as long as the total amount of time you take off does not exceed 12 weeks.
You may also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including ultrasounds, doctor visits, and other routine check-ups. Still, you may want to keep these to a minimum so you can enjoy more time off after delivery.
Some states have laws that allow employees to take leave due to an inability to work related to a pregnancy, but Colorado is not one of those states.
Colorado employers must abide by FMLA laws if they employ at least 50 people for at least 20 weeks in a year.
Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if:
- they have been employed by the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year
- they work at a company with at least 50 local employees
FMLA leave is available to a Colorado employee who needs time off to:
- bond with his or her new baby or adopted child
- rest from a serious health condition, including pregnancy
- care for a close relative with a health condition
- see to a family member's military service
- care for a spouse or close relative who has suffered injuries on active duty
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) doesn't require employers to provide pregnant employees with time off work. What the PDA does is require them to treat their employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy the same as they would treat any other temporarily disabled employee.
If your company has allowed others to take time off for temporary disabilities, such as a stroke or a broken leg, then that company must allow pregnant women to take the time off when they are physically unable to work.
Colorado has a state law requiring companies make the same type of leave available to those women who are unable to work (temporarily) because of pregnancy and childbirth that they extend to employees who are temporarily disabled due to other health conditions.
Unpaid Parenting Leave
If you qualify, FMLA gives allows you to take time off work to bond with a new baby whether that child is biological, adopted, or foster. The amount of time cannot exceed 12 weeks, however, so if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, this will leave you with 10 weeks of parenting leave.
Colorado does have a parental leave law, but it only applies to adoptive parents. Under the state's parental leave law, companies that offer parental leave to biological parents must offer the same options to adoptive parents.
Colorado's parental leave law doesn't require employers to provide time off, rather it simply states that employers treat adoptive parents the same way they would treat biological parents.
It's important to note that if your spouse works at the same company, your employer can limit your FMLA time to a combined 12 weeks, meaning you will have to share the leave.
Part-time or Reduced Schedule Leave Under the FMLA
When medically necessary, FMLA allows employees to take parental or pregnancy leave sporadically.
This means that if you have a prenatal checkup or pregnancy-related ailment that won't last the entire day, you can use a couple of hours of your FMLA leave and then go back to work.
For instance, if you suffer from morning sickness early in the day, you might need to take the morning off. FMLA will allow you to do so and come to work by lunchtime.
The rules are different for parental leave, however. If you want to take parenting leave intermittently, such as returning to work half-time following the birth, your employer must agree to the arrangement. If your boss agrees, you must still finish your time off within 12 months after taking the first FMLA leave.
Colorado Family and Medical Leave Laws
Unlike some states, Colorado doesn't have its own law for family and medical leave. Colorado's Family Care Act (FCA) defines a "family member" under the FMLA, expanding it to include domestic and civil union partners. As such, an employee may take FMLA leave to attend to a domestic partner or civil union partner suffering from a serious health condition.
The state's Family Care Act runs alongside with FMLA leave. This means that Colorado employees cannot take up to 12 weeks off under the FMLA and another 12 weeks off under the FCA.
Eligible employers must allow eligible employees who are victims of domestic violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking to take up to three days off in a one-year period to:
- seek counseling or medical treatment
- seek a civil protection order
- seek legal assistance
- attend court-related proceedings
- seek new housing
- make an existing home secure.
These employers must let employees who are the parents or legal guardians of school-aged children the ability to take time off work to attend:
- school conferences
- special education meetings
- dropout prevention
- disciplinary actions
Employees can also take up to six hours of leave in any given month, although this is unpaid, as well as a total of 18 hours of leave during the academic year, to be used for the above purposes. However, employees must make every effort to schedule these types of activities outside work hours.
Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 16-1438 into law, which became effective August 10, 2016. This new Colorado state law requires employers to assess reasonable accommodations for both employees and applicants who have conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. Failure to do so constitutes a violation of Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act.
The employer is required to accommodate the employee as long as there is no undue hardship placed on the employer's business. Undue hardships generally refer to significant difficulties or expenses.
Short-Term Disability Insurance in Colorado
The state's short-term disability insurance meets an essential need for families in Colorado.
Taking unpaid leave can be detrimental to families, and time spent recuperating from childbirth is generally unpaid. Naturally, women use the programs more than men do for the simple reason that they get pregnant and give birth.
Colorado's short-term disability benefits can replace part of an income when the policyholder cannot work due to pregnancy.
Never assume, however, that the state of Colorado will replace any part of paycheck during the period you're unable to work, either before or after childbirth. In most cases, you should purchase a private insurance policy before becoming pregnant or verify your benefits through your employer's provided insurance.
Colorado does not have a compulsory program that addresses the temporary medical needs of employees, which is why it's important to have a private policy as a backup before you become pregnant. As such, you should finish your policy application before becoming hurt, sick, or pregnant to make sure you qualify for the policy and can claim its benefits.
Qualifications for claims review are classified into the following categories:
- mental illnesses
- physical illnesses
A qualifying illness or accident is considered to be any non-preexisting condition. Self-inflicted injuries or those that occurred while committing crimes or while intoxicated do not qualify.
The most essential Colorado short-term disability rule to remember is that you should buy a policy before getting pregnant, hurt, or sick. Unfortunately, too many workers overlook this rule and find they don't have the option to take short-term disability after becoming pregnant.
Colorado Short-Term Maternity Leave
Maternity leave cash payments are usually more than the amount paid in premiums before the delivery. In most cases, the benefits average three times as much as the yearly premium.
Taking short-term disability for a normal childbirth is possible, but you must abide by strict rules. First, it's important to enroll before conception. Buying a policy through employer generally gives you access to better benefits than if you purchase a plan through a local insurance agent.
A policy is good to have for another reason: complications during pregnancy are quite common. You might experience spotting, gestational diabetes, or any other pregnancy-related condition that can prevent you from working. In some cases, your gynecologists might prescribe bed rest. Bed rest can help stabilize your condition and is often recommended when severe complications arise. Bed rest can last anywhere from a few days to a month, or even for an entire trimester if the condition is bad enough.
Having a policy allows you to get the rest you need without feeling pressured to keep working.
If you are trying to get pregnant, start planning your coverage now. In most cases, when your policy begins nine months before delivery, childbirth counts as a benefit that's covered.
Colorado Short-Term Disability Laws
Short-term disability laws are not specific in Colorado. Even so, several federal regulations are designed to protect your job if you need reasonable accommodations or are unable to return to work.
There is also no state rule in Colorado mandating that employers offer an option for employees to purchase short-term disability policies. If an insurance is unable through your employer, you should consider purchasing a private policy.
Short-term disability is offered to employees in the form of payroll deductions. There are certain responsibilities an employer must abide by, however, including:
- allowing agents to educate employees
- supporting a payroll deduction
- forwarding withheld premiums
- verifying that workers are not earning an income any longer after a claim
If you are employed as a public-school teacher, college employee, state trooper, or other state government entity, you can obtain membership in the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).
Short-term disability coverage is provided by PERA for any member who has five or more years of earned service. State workers are allowed to take 520 hours for the birth, adoption, or foster of a child, or for serious health conditions.
If you need help with Colorado maternity leave, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.