Things continue to change as a result of COVID-19, including in the workplace, raising questions for employees who continue to work and employees who are out of work as a result of steps to contain the virus. Here are a few frequently asked questions.
What if I am off work because of COVID-19?
Employers are significantly changing their business model or temporarily closing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including a number of industries closed by government order. As a result, many employees are facing reduced paychecks, whether it is a reduction in hours or time off work. Unemployment benefits may be available to cover some of your reduced income.
If your employer closed or reduced your hours because of COVID-19, you are eligible to file a claim for unemployment benefits. You can apply for unemployment benefits even if you continue to work, but your hours or pay has been reduced. You can also apply if your employer reduced your hours to zero without terminating your employment.
The best way to file a claim is online, by clicking here. It is important you file as soon as possible. You are only eligible to receive benefits after your application. They are not available retroactively.
More information is available on the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s website regarding applying for unemployment as a result of COVID-19 and applying for unemployment in general.
What if I am having trouble submitting my claim online?
You might also have more success trying to file your claim online late at night or very early in the morning.
You should use the “Save & Finish Later” button to make sure you do not lose your progress when applying.
You can also call 303-318-9000 or 1-800-388-5515, but be prepared to hold for a long time.
What if I believe I was wrongfully terminated?
The coronavirus does not give employers license to use it as an excuse to violate laws prohibiting discrimination or retaliation, discussed elsewhere on our website. If you believe your employer has used the pandemic as an excuse to cover up for unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment, please contact us or call us at (303) 831-4750.
What if I have symptoms of COVID-19? Can I take leave?
The Colorado legislature passed the Health Families and Workplaces Act (HWFA). It requires that employers must pay one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked with a maximum of 48 hours per year. The HWFA requires employers to allow employees to use paid medical leave to care for their own mental or physical illness that prevents work; to obtaining medical diagnosis, care, or treatment; due to being a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault; to care for a family member; and due to a public health emergency where a public official closed the place of business or a child’s school or place of care that requires an employee to care for the child.
In addition, during a public health emergency, employers must immediately provide each employee additional paid leave. The employer must provide 80 hours of paid leave for employees working 40 or more hours per week. For employees working less than 40 hours per week, the number of hours the employee is scheduled for work in the upcoming 14 day period or the actually worked average of the prior 14 days. Employers are eligible to use this leave to self isolate based on experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19; seek diagnosis or treatment; when they are unable to work due to a health condition that increases their susceptibility or risk of COVID-19; caring for a child or other family member with symptoms of COVID-19 or a diagnosis of COVID-19.
It applies to all employees in all industries, except employers with 15 or fewer employers or employers that provide equivalent or more generous paid leave under a collective bargaining agreement.
For more information, the Colorado Department of Labor has created an information sheet that is available here. Your employer must have a poster displayed informing you of these rights.
My employer wants to take my temperature before letting me work. Can they do that?
Yes, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Because COVID-19 is a pandemic, employers are permitted to ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including taking an employees’ temperature.
Can my employer send me home if I have symptoms of COVID-19? Or prevent me from attending work?
What if my family member has symptoms? Can I take leave to care for them?
It is important to remember that Colorado and federal employment laws remain in full effect. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives certain employees the right to 12 weeks of leave for their own serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Individuals who need to care for family members with COVID-19 may qualify for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you believe you have been denied your rights under the FMLA, please contact us or call us at (303) 831-4750.
The Colorado legislature passed the Health Families and Workplaces Act (HWFA). The HWFA allows leave to care for a child or other family member with symptoms of COVID-19 or a diagnosis of COVID-19. For more information, the Colorado Department of Labor has created an information sheet that is available here.
I heard Congress passed a bill to help with medical leave. What’s that about?
Can my employer require me to get a COVID-19 vaccination?
I have more questions that are not covered here. What other resources are available?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission maintains an FAQ on its website that is available here. The FAQ addresses requirements an employer must follow under federal anti-discrimination law.
The Department of Labor