In the News

Colorado’s next attempt at a paid-leave bill offers a major compromise to the business community

Colorado Democratic legislative leaders are poised to introduce a bill establishing a paid-family-and-medical-leave system in this state for the sixth time in the past seven years — but will offer a major compromise to the business community this year and propose that the new mandate be done through a private-insurance-market system rather than a state-run social program.

Loren Furman, senior vice president of state and federal relations for the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, said there remain too many uncertainties around the proposed bill to know if this will be acceptable to employers.

Furman acknowledged that the provision allowing qualified employers to keep plans is a big step forward, but she said the proposal she’s been given does not specify what minimum requirements they will have to put forward in order to qualify for that. And while she is glad that Winter and Williams seemed to have settled on a paid-leave range in the lower end of what the task force was considering, she remains unclear about how a minimum of eight weeks will become a minimum of 12 weeks, and how that change could affect pricing of insurance policies.

Also, she is concerned about the inclusion in the proposal of a private right of action that would allow employees to take their companies to court if they disagree with their decisions surrounding the allowance of leave. And Furman said she is confused about a provision in the overview given to her by Winter that states that the Division of Insurance will set aside money for workers to use while they appeal rejected claims — namely, whether that means that workers who are denied leave by employers who don’t feel their request meets the definition of leave can just take leave anyway while they fight the decision.