If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
- If one or more employees test positive for COVID-19, implement the following steps immediately:
The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to separate those who are ill or test positive from those who are well.
- According to the Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law (PHEW) employers cannot discipline, cut hours, reduce wages, or fire an employee for asking their options about taking leave, taking time off they are entitled to, or asking about their rights.
- The law also applies to employees working as independent contractors and those who are undocumented.
- Signage helps establish expectations for employees and customers. Materials for business are available from:
Legal Protections for Employees
If employees have paid medical leave available, they’re more likely to adhere to isolation and quarantine guidance which helps to stop further spread of the virus. The following laws may apply:
- Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplace Act requires all employers to provide accrued paid sick leave
- Employers are also required to provide one hour of paid leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. This requirement took effect January 1, 2021, and is permanently in effect, not just during the COVID emergency.
- Accrued leave is usable for a wide range of health and safety needs, not just COVID-related: Needs include:
- Any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents work;
- Diagnosis, care, or treatment of such conditions;
- Preventive care (including vaccination);
- Needs due to suffering domestic violence, sexual abuse, or criminal harassment; or caring for family with such conditions or needs.
- Starting January 1, 2022, small and large employers alike have the same accrued leave responsibilities.
- Employers can require documentation for accrued paid sick leave (not for COVID-related public health emergency (PHE) leave), but only for absences of four or more consecutive days — and employees can provide the documentation after the leave ends.
- An employee who has COVID-19 may be entitled to an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as medical leave if symptoms are serious enough to substantially limit major life activities like breathing and taking care of one’s self. An employer may ask questions or request medical documentation to determine whether the employee has a “disability” as defined by the ADA.
Report a Concern
If an employer is not meeting these requirements report concerns by completing the online form
Boulder County Public Health staff will determine if there is a public health concern and will follow up with the business or work with law enforcement if needed. If Boulder County Public Health identifies employers who continue to violate employment requirements, the state will send them a letter reinforcing their responsibilities under the law.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment accepts complaints for unpaid paid leave, other earned wages and other violations of Colorado wage and hour law. Workers who have had their rights violated may be entitled to back pay, restitution and reinstatement of their position.
- Colorado Department of Labor & Employment: Division of Hour and Wage: information about wage and hourly laws, discrimination and retaliation protections
- Guidance to Employers/Businesses Regarding Employee Protections & Reasonable Accommodations Including Masks Due to COVID-19
- Towards Justice nonprofit law firm: on Workplace Safety, Unemployment, Working from Home, Disability, Paid Leave (English & Spanish); online intake form (English/Spanish)
- Boulder County Bar Association Virtual Legal Clinic (Spanish)
Boulder County Public Health cannot provide legal advice and does not endorse any attorney or law firm. Boulder County Public Health is not responsible for the availability of outside resources, nor does Boulder County Public Health endorse, nor is it responsible for, any of the products or services delivered by any outside organization.