By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – On Wednesday, Colorado lawmakers provided an overview of a newly introduced bill that would provide earned sick days to workers in the state. Under SB20-205, employees would earn a sick day for every 26 hours worked.

(credit: CBS)

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg and Senator Jeff Bridges, alongside Speaker of the House KC Becker and Representative Yadira Caraveo introduced the legislation, saying it will empower Colorado workers to protect themselves and their coworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this new reality, we must ensure that people are able to prioritize and protect the health of themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Majority Leader Fenberg, (D-Boulder). “Currently nearly half of Colorado workers are not able to earn a single sick day. To keep our communities safe, our businesses open and our economy on the road to recovery, we need to ensure that all workers can stay home when they are sick.”

Most employees in Colorado will be able to earn a maximum of 80 hours of paid sick time per year, and businesses with 50 or fewer employees will be able to earn a maximum of 40 hours. Employers are not required to pay the balance of sick days to employees when they leave.

“We are focusing on how we can help Coloradans safely get back to work as we protect our most vulnerable and prioritize the health and safety of all,” said Speaker KC Becker, (D-Boulder). “Too many of those on the frontlines of this pandemic, our health care workers, food service workers who are restocking grocery stores, and so many other essential workers, don’t have paid sick leave. If Coloradans return to work sick, then we will reverse the progress we’ve made and our economic crisis will worsen. Paid sick leave will lead to healthier communities, stronger businesses, and a safer road to recovery.”

According to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, employees working while sick costs the national economy approximately $160 billion per year.

Lawmakers said 40% of Colorado’s workforce does not currently earn paid sick days. Under the bill, the sick days would be phased in gradually as employees earn them.

Audra Streetman

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