By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado state employees are now eligible for paid family or medical leave. Gov. Jared Polis announced the program in December.

Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative in November, creating an insurance program for employers to offer Family Medical Leave Insurance. This program will not go into effect until 2024. Polis said that he wanted to create a program for state workers sooner.

This is the first time state employees will have access to paid family or medical leave. The program provides benefits for employees to care for a loved one, welcome a new child into the home or recover from a serious illness.

(Credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images)

“I am proud to say that Paid Leave will now be a reality for State Employees, many of whom have worked day and night during this past year to ensure that we can save the lives of Coloradans and come out stronger from this public health crisis,” stated Polis.

Funding from the program comes from the Group Benefits Plan Reserve Fund, which pays for health, life and dental benefits for state employees. State officials said the fund balance is growing as a result of decreased medical use due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund currently has enough funds to pay for the program through 2021. In the future, the state said it could team up with the Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions union to pursue more funding for the program from the General Assembly.

Audra Streetman