Labor & Employment Legislation Update

Several new bills continue to move through the legislative process this week since the Colorado General Assembly reconvened for the 2020 Legislative Session. Below is an update on several of these bills:

SB 216 – Workers Compensation Presumption
This bill shifts the legal burden of proof onto the employer for worker compensation claims associated with COVID-19.  It applies to employees that work for construction companies; retail companies; medical providers; first responders; corrections; food processing and agricultural; nursing homes; utility services; airlines; residential care facilities; pharmacists; and public transportation.  If a worker claims workers compensation because they believe they contracted COVID-19 at the workplace, the employer must prove otherwise through clear and convincing evidence if an employer chooses to dispute the claim.

SB 207 –Unemployment Insurance
This bill as introduced cobbled together several different issues – some of which were important to the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment but others significantly altered current independent contractor statutes. The Colorado Chamber and many other business interests submitted comments and lobbied the bill sponsors and other members of the Legislature over the week in an effort to improve the bill. All amendments were adopted yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee that resolved those concerns.

SB 205 – Requiring Employers to Provide Sick Leave
SB 205 requires all Colorado employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees including during a pandemic. The Colorado Chamber submitted comments regarding concerns with the bill and lobbied the bill sponsors on our requested changes. The sponsors will be offering several amendments to address a majority of the concerns raised.

Bill #TBD – Whistleblower Protections in Public Health Emergencies
This draft bill prohibits discriminating or retaliating against an employee who raises concerns about workplace safety practices or who voluntarily wears their own protective equipment. The bill also allows an employee to file a complaint with the Division of Labor standards and can bring a civil action in District Court after exhausting those administrative remedies.