Discipline and termination

State procedures

Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?

Colorado has no law governing private employers with regard to discipline and grievance procedures.

At-will or notice

At-will status and/or notice period?

Colorado is an at-will state.

What restrictions apply to the above?

The at-will status may be modified by an express or implied contract. An implied contract can arise out of an employment manual, handbook, or other document reflecting company policy and practice.

In addition, Colorado recognizes certain public policy exceptions to the at-will employment relationship including violation of public policy (such as when an employee refuses to comply with an unlawful request or whistle-blowing activity), wrongful constructive discharge, fraudulent inducement, or any other unlawful reason (e.g., discrimination).

Final paychecks

Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?

If terminated by the employer, all earned wages are due immediately if the accounting unit is operational or no later than six hours after the start of the accounting unit’s next regular working day if not operational at termination. If the accounting unit is offsite, then wages are due no later than 24 hours after the start of the accounting unit’s next regular working day (C.R.S. §8-4-109). When an employee resigns or quits employment, all earned wages are due by or on the next regular payday (C.R.S. §8-4-109).

Effective August 10, 2022, when deducting from employee’s wages the amount of money or value of property that the employee failed to return upon separation, the employer must provide notice of the anticipated deduction within 10 days after termination, including a written accounting of (i) money/property owed, (ii) the replacement value, (iii) the date it was given to the employee, and (iv) the date it should have been returned. If the employee returns the money/property within 14 days of the notice, the employer must reimburse employee for the deduction

While employers are not required to provide paid vacation benefits, if an employer does provide paid vacation or paid time off (PTO), any earned but unused vacation/PTO time must be treated like wages and paid out upon separation. Any purported “use it or lose it” policies, requiring forfeiture of earned but unused vacation upon separation, are void. See Nieto v. Clark’s Market, 2021 CO 48.