Polis announces paid family medical leave for state employees

Gov. Jared Polis announced a new paid family medical leave program for state employees in a press release on Monday. A first of its kind for the state, Colorado’s Paid Family Medical Leave program was created in partnership with Colorado WINS and will be implemented in January 2021. It will make state employees eligible for paid leave to care for loved ones, new children, or recover from a serious illness.


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“One of the core values of my administration is supporting families,” Polis said. “That is why I have championed lowering the cost of healthcare with programs like reinsurance, free full day kindergarten and expanding access to preschool. It is also why many of my senior and cabinet level positions are held by women, many of whom are parenting young children. 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.”

The program will be funded through the Group Benefits Plan Reserve Fund. This fund pays for medical benefits for state employees, and is accumulating additional funds due to a decreased use of medical services as a result of COVID-19. The fund currently has enough money to pay for employee medical leave through 2021, and the administration and Colorado WINS may request additional funding from the general assembly for future years.

“Expanded benefits for the people that stand on the front lines of the COVID response, no matter the color of their skin or the size of their paychecks, gets to the heart of Colorado WINS’ partnership with the state,” said Colorado WINS Executive Director Hilary Glasgow. “When we work together to protect all workers and provide access to paid leave, state employees can better protect their communities, their families and themselves. This is a good step in the right direction and we look forward to negotiating our first contract with the state with an equally collaborative spirit. We know the best way to take care of Coloradans is to take care of our state employees who make the way for a vibrant and flourishing Colorado.”

Through Prop. 118, Coloradans voted this year to pass an initiative creating a state insurance program that will allow employers in the state to provide paid medical leave to their employees — an additional step forward in Colorado’s expansion of employee medical support. This program will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave. It will take effect on January 1st, 2024.