The Colorado General Assembly convened on January 10, 2018 for its regular session. Between now and its scheduled May 9, 2018 adjournment date, the House and Senate will consider numerous employment-related bills. Although some may not get out of committee, and others may not get enough votes to pass, the bills highlighted here provide a glimpse into what our legislature may be considering for our state’s employers.
Immigrant Work-Status Bill
Introduced on February 5, 2018, House Bill18-1230 would create a purple card program that would allow certain persons who came to the United States without legal documentation to work legally in Colorado. To be eligible for the program, a person must have no felony convictions for the three years immediately prior to their application, and they must either have been brought to the U.S. as a minor, or paid state income taxes for the two years immediately prior to their application to the program. Sponsored by Representative Dan Pabon (D-Denver), the bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
FAMLI Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
House Bill18-1001 would create the family and medical leave insurance program (FAMLI) within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The program would offer partial wage-replacement benefits to eligible employees who need to take leave from work because they are unable to work due to a serious health condition or need to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition.
The program would be funded through employee contributions, based on a percentage of the employee’s annual wages, not to initially exceed 0.99%. The premiums would be deposited into the FAMLI fund to be paid out to eligible individuals. As introduced, the bill would apply to all employers in the state engaged in activities affecting commerce and only requires that the employer have at least one employee to be covered. The maximum number of weeks of FAMLI benefits payable to an eligible individual would be 12 weeks in any year. The bill has been assigned to the Finance Committee. Although the bill has a decent chance of passing the House, it will likely face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Non-Compete Exemption for Physician To Provide Continuing Care For Rare Disorders
Colorado’s statute that governs non-compete agreements specifically addresses non-competes for physicians. C.R.S. §8-2-113. Although covenants not to compete that restrict a physician’s post-employment ability to practice medicine are void, agreements may require a physician to pay damages in an amount reasonably related to the injury suffered by reason of the termination of the agreement are enforceable. Senate Bill18-082 would create an exemption allowing a physician, after termination of an agreement, to continue to care for any patient with a rare disorder without liability for damages. As of the time of this writing, the bill has passed the Second Reading in the Senate. It needs to pass on Third Reading before heading to the House.
Minimum Wage Waiver
House Bill18-1106, introduced by Representative Dave Williams (R-El Paso), would allow an applicant for employment, or a current employee to negotiate a different minimum wage than what is required under the Colorado Constitution. The bill would require employers to post a notice informing employees of the right to negotiate wages. Unsurprisingly, this bill already failed in committee. (Employers should remember that neither an employer nor an employee has the authority to waive minimum wage and overtime pay under federal or state wage law.)
Although dead on arrival, Representative Justin Everett (R-Jefferson) introduced a right-to-work bill, House Bill 19-1030, that would prohibit employees from being required to join, remain in, or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Similar bills have been introduced almost every session, and like those before it, this one was shot down. The bill was rejected in committee and will not make it to the House floor for a vote. With Democrats controlling the Colorado House, there is virtually no chance that a right-to-work bill would see the light of day.
More To Come
We will continue to monitor labor and employment developments at the Colorado legislature and will report back in future posts.