Colorado Passes Paid Family Leave, Joining Six States, D.C.

Who's next?

Mom holds her baby

Election day 2020 drags on. Three days after the official election day in the United States has dragged on to the 100th hour, as votes continue to be tabulated to give the most accurate possible account of votes, voters are closer to knowing who the President will be. It is, at this point, very likely leaning that Joe Biden is the President-elect of the United States, though not official. That said, it may take a few more days before every vote is counted and official popular and electoral vote counts are given.

One thing parents can be sure of, though, is that Colorado has made a decisive decision for nearly 2.6 million workers in the state. What decision did they make? To enact a paid family leave program in the state of Colorado. Colorado will now become one of seven states, and D.C., that has paid leave, joining New York, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., have paid parental leave for all workers across the state. States that are currently considering the measure include Oregon, Connecticut, and Vermont.

The vote in Colorado, which passed by an overwhelming majority of 57 to 43 percent in the state was called by 9:53 p.m. on election night — was a ballot initiative, the first of its kind, that voters directly voted on whether or not to approve. And what Colorado voters will get will be great — one of the most progressive paid leave programs in the country.

Colorado voters, 80 percent of whom have never had access to a paid leave program, will get 12 weeks of paid leave plus an additional 4-weeks of leave for pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The costs of the leave will be shared between employees and employers and businesses with less than ten employees will pay nothing but will still receive the benefit.

The plan will kick in in 2023 — and after any employee earns at least $2,500 in wages at their company they will be able to take the leave, and their jobs are leave-protected after 180 days of employment. The average Colorado employee will pay less than $4 a week to have job-protected leave, benefit. Lower-income workers, those who are the least likely to have access to have job-protected, paid leave, will receive 90 percent of their wages. The plan is ambitious, great for working parents, and, best of all, actually happening.

While the fight for national paid leave is just beginning — with a potential Biden Harris administration spearing the cause for it — the people who helped get Colorado’s paid leave ballot initiative off the ground are just getting started. If the national paid leave program doesn’t get off the ground, voters in states across the country can expect to see paid leave initiatives on their ballot in 2022 and beyond.