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| 1 minute read

Colorado Windstorms Implicate State Family Leave Duties

A new provision of the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) saw an unexpected application for many Coloradoans on the front range due to the massive windstorm that swept through April 6 and 7. 

Due to gusts reaching close to 100 mph, Xcel Energy preemptively shut off power to about 55,000 customers across the front range. The dry conditions prompted fears that downed powerlines would spark, causing wildfires, which would spread quickly due to windy conditions. 

Unfortunately, many other Coloradoans lost power due to downed lines, and Xcel reported 87,000 people were still without power Sunday night after the winds had calmed.

These outages also affected schools across the Denver metro area, including those in Boulder, Jefferson County, and Littleton. In total, 26 schools canceled classes Monday due to lack of electricity. 

And this is when a new provision of HFWA comes into play. HFWA was originally passed in 2020 and requires all employers to provide one hour of accrued, paid leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. This sick leave can be used for a variety of medical reasons for the employee, as well as care for family members. 

In August of 2023, the legislature amended the HFWA to expand the reasons sick leave can be taken, including if an employee must care for a family member whose “school or place of care” has been closed due to power loss caused by inclement weather or if they have to evacuate their residence due to power outage. This does not mean additional leave must be given, but instead expands the reasons that existing leave can be taken. 

School closures caused by this weekend’s windstorm and employees having to leave their homes due to power outage may fall under this expanded HFWA reasoning. If an employee must miss work because their family member attends an affected school, HFWA states they must be able to use existing sick leave for that care. 

This is a good reminder that employers should always check their policies to ensure they comply with any updated regulations in Colorado. If those polices are lacking, they should be updated immediately to ensure compliance with state law. 


employee benefits, employment litigation, employee benefits and executive compensation, labor and employment and employee benefits