Colorado Leave Laws




Vacation Leave

In Colorado, an employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, CO Div. of Labor Advisory Bulletin and Resource Guide. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-4-101(8)(a)(III).

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. See Thompson v. Cheyenne Mountain School Dist. No. 12, 844 P.2d 1235 (Colo. App. 1992).

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they are terminated. See Thompson v. Cheyenne Mountain School Dist. No. 12, 844 P.2d 1235 (Colo. App. 1992).

An employer may also lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they fail to comply with specific requirements, such as giving two weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year. See Thompson v. Cheyenne Mountain School Dist. No. 12, 844 P.2d 1235 (Colo. App. 1992).

An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. CO Wage Act § 8-4-101; See Thompson v. Cheyenne Mountain School Dist. No. 12, 844 P.2d 1235 (Colo. App. 1992).

The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to determine whether an employer is liable to pay employees for accrued vacation upon separation from employment when the policy or contract is silent on the issue. See Cheyenne Mountain School District #12 v. Thompson, 861 P.2d 711 (Colo. Sup. Ct. 1993). Thus, it is unclear whether an employer would be liable to pay for accrued or earned vacation to an employee upon separation from employment when the policy or contract does not specifically address the matter.

An employer may lawfully cap the amount of leave an employee may accrue over time. See Cheyenne Mountain School District #12 v. Thompson, 861 P.2d 711 (Colo. Sup. Ct. 1993).

An employer would also likely be free to implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it. See Thompson v. Cheyenne Mountain School Dist. No. 12, 844 P.2d 1235 (Colo. App. 1992).




Sick Leave

Colorado law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. CO DOL Advisory Bulletin and Resource Guide. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. An employer in Colorado may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.



Holiday Leave

Colorado law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. In Colorado, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. An employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as one and a half (1½) times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime CO DOL. If a private employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our Colorado State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Colorado as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.



Jury Duty Leave

An employer must pay an employee up to $50 per day for first three (3) days of juror service, unless the employer and employee have agreed otherwise. Colorado Stat. 13-71-126

An employer may not discharge, penalize, harass, threaten, or coerce an employee for responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury. Colorado Stat. 13-71-134



Voting Leave

Colorado law requires employers to provide employees with up to two (2) hours of paid leave to vote, unless: 1) an employee has not requested the leave at least one day prior to the vote date, or 2) the employee has three (3) or more hours after the opening or before the closing of the polls during which the voter is not required to be on the job. An employer may specify the hours an employee may take leave to vote, but the period must fall at the beginning or end of the work period if the employee so requests. CO Stat. 1-7-102



Bereavement Leave

Colorado law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.