THERE’S A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: CDLE RELEASES COMPS #39
Another year, another COMPS (i.e., Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards) Order.
The minimum wage is now identified as $14.42 per hour.
The salary-threshold amount for exempt employees is set at $55,000.00. Next year, that amount will be adjusted based on Colorado inflation.
Despite there not being a lot of changes between COMPS #38 and COMPS #39, Colorado employers still have to undertake a number of steps now that the new COMPS is out. First, COMPS requires that “every employer publishing or distributing to employees any handbook, manual, or written or posted policies shall include a copy of the COMPS Order, or a COMPS Order poster published by the Division, with any such handbook, or manual…” So, this means that if you have an Employee Handbook, the new COMPS #39 needs to be part of that Handbook. Additionally, COMPS also requires that if the organization requires employees to sign any handbook, manual, or policy, the organization must “have the employee sign an acknowledgement of being provided the COMPS Order or the COMPS Order poster.” So, this means that all Colorado organizations need to have all employees sign the Order, even if the employee has signed the previous Order.
RESOLUTIONS FOR 2024
#1. Legislation, legislation, legislation. To borrow an oft-repeated expression, “if you don’t get involved in legislation before it’s passed (e.g., write emails to your representatives/senators; participate in local governmental/legislative committees), you lose the right to complain about it after it’s passed.” The 2024 Colorado legislative session is certain to be a very active one regarding employment laws. So, now is the time to get involved in shaping how those laws will look.
#2. Ensure that you’ve implemented all the changes based on the amendments to Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. The Colorado Legislature was extremely active last session in passing changes to Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which has only been in place since January 1, 2021. In sum, Colorado organizations need to ensure that their postings for job openings are con-sistent with these new changes.
#3. Ensure that your handbook policies identify the new basis for leave under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”). In summer 2023, the Colorado legislature passed legislation that expanded the reasons an employee can take HFWA Leave. Those new reasons are for when an employee needs:
to grieve, attend funeral services or a memorial, or deal with financial and legal matters that arise after the death of a family member;
to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected occurrence or event that results in the closure of the family member’s school or place of care; or
to evacuate the Employee’s place of residence due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected occurrence or event that results in the need to evacuate the Employee’s residence.
#4. Make sure employees understand the importance of letting your organization know when the employee is applying for FAMLI. There’s certainly a lot that the next year will bring on Colorado’s new leave — Family and Medical Leave Insurance Leave. One of the important aspects that needs to be communicated to all employees is the requirement for the employee to let the organization know when the employee applies for FAMLI Leave with the CDLE so that the organization can plan.
#5. Posters. Posters. And more Colorado Posters. The list of Colorado posters employers should post seem to get longer and longer every year. For example, the following are required by the Colorado Department of Labor: (1) COMPS; (2) HFWA; (3) Colorado Anti-Discrimination; (4) Col-orado Employment Security Act; (5) Notice to Employer of Injury; and (6) Notice of Paydays.
#6. Maintain the POWR Repository of Complaints. The recently passed Protecting Opportunities And Workers’ Rights Act (“POWR”) re-quires all Colorado employers to maintain “an accurate, designated repository of all written or oral complaints of discriminatory, harassing, retaliatory, or unfair employment practices that includes, but is not limited to: (a) the date of the complaint; (b) the identity of the complaining party, if the complaint was not made anonymously; (c) the identity of the alleged perpetrator; and (d) the substance of the complaint.”
#7. Change your Harassment Policy. And speaking of POWR…. As you’ll recall, POWR obviated the long-standing standard of “severe and pervasive conduct” in harassment claims. So, employers should ensure that all Handbook policies no longer reference such a standard.
#8. Make sure job descriptions accurately describe the duties you want the employee to perform. Job descriptions not only convey to employees what they should be accomplishing, but they are invaluable to identify in unemployment claims, EEOC charges, litigations, etc. what the employer considers to be the essential functions of the position. Additionally, these job descriptions are absolutely essential in defending a claim under the Equal Pay Act. So, don’t overlook these critical documents.
#9. Distribute policies and conduct training regarding the requirement that nonexempt employees may not perform work off-the-clock. Class-action lawsuits regarding employees claiming that they performed work off-the-clock continue to increase and increase and increase. In an attempt to limit liability in such claims, organizations should ensure that they take steps to require nonexempt employees to document all time worked and that they are diligent in reminding employees to track ALL time worked.
#10. Make sure supervisors receive training regarding the organization’s policies and procedures. Do your supervisors understand the finer points of the POWR requirements when their subordinates talk to them about concerns about “un-fair treatment”? Are your supervisors ready for the upcoming FAMLI Leave and all the reasons an em-ployee can request leave? These are just a couple examples of training that supervisors should receive from organizations.
#11. Si sus trabajadores hablan varios idiomas, las políticas de la compañía deben estar en varios idiomas. If you didn’t understand that, perhaps you shouldn’t expect employees who pre-dominantly speak Spanish to understand the organization’s English-only policies. In short, consider having your key employment policies translated into Spanish for workers that predominantly speak Spanish.
Source: THE EMPLOYER’S ADVISORY, A PERIODICAL HIGHLIGHTING CURRENT EMPLOYMENT-LAW ISSUES
PREPARED BY THE LAW FIRM OF BECHTEL & SANTO