Colorado’s “Safer at Home” Executive Order and accompanying Public Health Order include new anti-discrimination provisions, new protections for employees with COVID-19, and new safety requirements for employers.
Protections for “Vulnerable Individuals” and employees who live with them,
and employees with child care responsibilities
All Colorado businesses – critical and non-critical – are now subject to new employment law requirements related to COVID-19. The Safer at Home Orders mandate special protections for three categories of workers:
“Vulnerable Individuals” (defined as individuals who are 65 years old or older, pregnant, immunocompromised, determined to be high risk by a healthcare provider, or diagnosed with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, or serious heart conditions).
Workers who live in the same household as a Vulnerable Individual.
Workers with childcare responsibilities.
Specifically, employers are directed to accommodate workers in these three groups “to the greatest extent possible by promoting telecommuting or other remote work options, flexible schedules, or other means.”
Additionally, Vulnerable Individuals “cannot be compelled to perform in-person work” for any business. Vulnerable Individuals (and possibly other types of workers) who refuse to return to work due to “COVID-19-related demonstrable, unsafe working conditions” will be able to obtain unemployment benefits under a new emergency rule that will be issued by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Protections for workers with COVID-19 symptoms or exposures
The Executive Order also indicates that protections for workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 are on the way. Specifically, the Executive Order directs the Colorado Civil Rights Division to provide further guidance regarding employers who discriminate against employees with COVID-19 symptoms or exposures. The Order also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for these individuals.
In addition to the anticipated anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation provisions, Colorado’s Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules, as expanded by the Executive Order, mandates 14 days of paid sick leave (paid at two-thirds of the employees’ regular rate) for employees who either have COVID-19 symptoms, are being tested for COVID-19, or are being ordered to isolate.
The Safer at Home Orders allow both critical and non-critical businesses to reopen by following industry-specific guidelines and opening dates. However, all businesses (regardless of critical status or industry) must now do the following at their in-person worksites:
Deputize a workplace coordinator charged with addressing COVID-19 issues in the workplace.
Maintain six-foot separation between employees and discourage shared workspaces.
Frequently sanitize all high-touch areas.
Post signage for employees and customers on good hygiene.
Encourage breaks to wash hands or use hand sanitizer.
Phase shifts and breaks to reduce density.
Ensure proper ventilation in accordance with the guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Implement symptom monitoring protocols, such as taking temperatures and screening for symptoms.
Require employees to stay home when showing any symptoms, or signs of sickness.
Limit all in-person meetings or gatherings to 10 people or less.
Provide appropriate personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, and face coverings.
Employers with more than 50 employees in any one location are also required to implement stations for symptom screening, shut down common areas, and implement mandatory cleaning, social distancing, and disinfection protocols.
The Safer at Home Orders also impose specific requirements for various types of businesses, including office-based businesses, critical and non-critical retail businesses, field services, personal services, and limited health care settings. For details, please see the Safer at Home Orders linked above.
We will continue to monitor the status of measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will keep you informed of any changes, including any challenges to enforceability.
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