Colorado – Minimum Wage, Overtime, Hours and Leave

Minimum Wage

Colorado’s current minimum wage rate is $12.32.

For more information on Colorado’s minimum wage laws, visit our Colorado Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing and pooling, and subminimum wages.

Related topic covered on other pages include:


Colorado labor laws require employers to pay employees overtime, unless an exemption applies, at a rate of 1½ time their regular rate when they work:

  • more than 40 hours in a workweek,
  • more than 12 hours in a workday, or
  • 12 consecutive hours without regard to the workday.

CO Reg. 7 CCR 1103-1-4; CO Department of Labor and Employment – Overtime

Colorado requires employers to use the overtime rules and calculations that will result in the employers’ greatest wage payment. CO Department of Labor and Employment – Overtime Federal overtime laws may also apply. For federally-defined exemptions and other federal overtime laws see FLSA: Overtime.

Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in Colorado may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates. Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services. See the Colorado Prevailing Wages, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) for more information about prevailing wages.

Meals and Breaks

Meal Breaks

Colorado labor laws require employers to provide their employees with a meal period of no less than thirty (30) minutes when they work more than five (5) consecutive hours. Employers must relieve employees of all duties during the entire thirty-minute meal period and permit the employees to pursue personal activities for the entire period. This “duty-free” meal period may be unpaid. Also, when practical, employers should not require employees to take them meal breaks not earlier than one (1) hour before the start of their shift and not later than one (1) hour before the end of their shift.

When it is not practical because of the nature of an employee’s job to permit a “duty-free” meal period, the employer must permit the employee to consume an “on-duty” meal and must be compensate the employee for the “on-duty” meal break.

CO Reg. 7 CCR 1103-1-5.1; CO Department of Labor and Employment – Breaks (Rest and Meal Periods)

Rest Breaks

Colorado employers must provide employees, unless an exemption applies, with a ten (10) minute paid break for every four (4) hours worked or major fraction thereof as follows:

Work HoursRest Periods Required
2 or fewer0
Over 2, and up to 61
Over 6, and up to 102
Over 10, and up to 143
Over 14, and up to 184
Over 18, and up to 225
Over 226

CO Reg. 7 CCR 1103-1-5.2; CO Department of Labor and Employment – Breaks (Rest and Meal Periods)

The break rests should be in the middle of the shift, if practical. CO Reg. 7 CCR 1103-1-5.2.2

The following deviations from the standard break rest rules include:

  • employers and employees may agree, voluntarily and without coercion, in writing covering up to one-year to have the employee receive two (2) 5-minute breaks, as long as five (5) minutes is sufficient, in the work setting, to allow the employee to go back and forth to a bathroom or other location where a bona fide break would be taken; or
  • rest periods need not be 10 minutes every four (4) hours for any employees
    • governed by a collective bargaining agreement at any employer, or
    • during time they are providing Medicaid-funded services for a service provider or agency receiving at least 75% of its annual total gross revenue from Medicaid or other governmental funds for providing such services within Medicaid home- and community-based services waivers, and the services provided require continuous supervision of the service recipient, or providing a rest period would interfere with ensuring the service recipient’s health, safety, and welfare. Employees in category (i) or (ii) must receive:
      • rest periods that average, over the workday, at least 10 minutes per four (4) hours worked; and
      • at least five (5) minutes of rest in every four (4) hours worked;
      • however, employers are not required to provide paid rest breaks when direct support professionals or direct care workers serving individuals with disabilities spend time in community outings with those individuals as part of day programs, supported living services, or one-to-one respite or personal care.

CO Reg. 7 CCR 1103-1-5.2.1

Under Colorado law, if an employer does not allow an employee to take a required rest period, the employee’s shift is effectively extended 10 minutes of work without compensation and the employer would be required to pay that employee for that time at the parties’ agreed-upon or legally required rate. The extra time may impact the employer’s obligation to pay the employee overtime rates. CO Reg. 7 CCR 1103-1-5.2.4

Nursing Mother Breaks

Colorado labor laws require employers to provide employees who are nursing mothers with reasonable breaks times to express breast milk for up to two (2) years after the child’s birth.  Employers must provide nursing mothers with reasonable unpaid break time to express milk or permit nursing mothers to use required paid meal breaks, rest breaks, or both.

Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide nursing mother employees with private locations where nursing mothers may express breast milk. The locations must be in close proximity to the nursing mothers’ work areas. Toilet stalls do not meet the minimum standards for the nursing mothers location.

Reasonable efforts to provide the minimum threshold for nursing mother locations may not impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business.  Whether reasonable efforts cause an undue hardship is based on factors such as:

  • the size of the business
  • the financial resources of the business
  • the nature and structure of the business’ operation, including consideration of the special circumstances of public safety

CO Statute 8-13.5-104; CO Department of Labor and Employment – Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers

Vacation Leave

Information about Colorado vacation leave laws may now be found on our Colorado Leave Laws page.

Sick Leave

Information about Colorado sick leave laws may now be found on our Colorado Leave Laws page.

Holiday Leave

Information about Colorado holiday leave laws may now be found on our Colorado Leave Laws page.

Jury Duty Leave

Information about Colorado jury duty leave laws may now be found on our Colorado Leave Laws page.

Voting Leave

Information about Colorado voting leave laws may now be found on our Colorado Leave Laws page.

Severance Pay

Colorado labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. If an employer chooses to provide severance benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. CO DOL Advisory Bulletin and Resource Guide.


Under certain circumstances, Colorado residents may be eligible for unemployment benefits while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits. See Colorado State Unemployment Benefits.

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