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Colorado Expands PHE Leave to Include Absences Relating to RSV, Flu, and Other Respiratory Illnesses

Posted by: Karen Booher on December 12th, 2022

On November 11, 2022, Colorado’s public health emergency for COVID-19 was amended to cover not only COVID-19, but also RSV, influenza, and “other respiratory illnesses”. This means that all Colorado employers must provide up to 80 hours – prorated based on the employees’ scheduled hours – of paid public health emergency (PHE) leave for absences relating to all of these illnesses.

This expansion beyond COVID does not create a fresh bucket of up to 80 hours of PHE leave, it just means that the same hours can be used for a broader range of conditions. Colorado employees have had access to PHE leave in connection with COVID-19 since January 1, 2021. Those who have already taken their allotted PHE leave for COVID-19 are not eligible for additional PHE leave for COVID-19 or these extended illnesses.

A Refresher of Acceptable Uses of PHE Leave

Under Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), employers are required to provide employees access to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave when a public health emergency has been declared. Employees can access this PHE leave if they are:

  1. Self-isolating or excluded from the workplace due to exposure, symptoms, or diagnosis of the communicable illness in the PHE;
  2. Seeking a diagnosis, treatment, or care (including preventative care, such as vaccination) of such an illness;
  3. Unable to work due to a health condition that may increase susceptibility to or risk of such an illness; or
  4. Caring for a child or other family member who is in category (1)-(3), or whose school or childcare is unavailable due to the PHE.


ASA Staffing Today, 11/29/2022. “Colorado and Oregon Trigger Protections for Leaves Relating to Non-COVID Respiratory Illnesses”, by David Gartenberg and Cristin Casey from Littler, Nov. 21, 2022.

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