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Colorado Legislature Passes Bills Impacting Employers During Recently Ended Session

By Drew Hintze posted 05-20-2024 10:00 AM

  

The Colorado General Assembly has drawn the curtains on the 2024 legislative session, leaving behind a trail of freshly inked bills poised to reshape the landscape for businesses. This article provides a summary of the new laws that will impact employers across the state. Unless otherwise noted, the bills were awaiting the signature of Governor Polis at the time this article was written.

HB24-1095: This bill increases penalties for violations of state child labor laws. Depending on the violation, fines range from $250 to $65,000 for some willful violations. Penalties are scheduled to increase with future inflation. It requires that the penalties be deposited into the wage-theft enforcement fund. Entities that violate the law must also pay specified damages to the individual who is aggrieved. The bill eliminates a provision in current law penalizing a person with legal responsibility for a minor who knowingly permits the minor to be employed in violation of the law. It also extends discrimination and retaliation protections for those making claims under the law. Late amendments to the bill added new protections for employers where a minor intentionally misled the employer as to their age and the employer made reasonable efforts to verify the age of the minor worker from a reliable third party.  If signed these new rules take effect January 1, 2025.

HB24-1130: This bill affects employers who use biometrics, including fingerprints. It restricts an employer's permissible reasons for the collection of biometric identifiers. An employer may require an employee to consent to providing biometric identifiers to:

  • Permit access to secure physical locations and secure electronic hardware and software applications

  • Record the commencement and conclusion of the employee's full workday

  • Improve or monitor workplace safety or security or ensure the safety or security of employees

  • Improve or monitor the safety or security of the public in the event of an emergency or crisis situation

All other gathering and use of biometrics must be with an employee’s specific consent, and there are protections against retaliation toward employees who do not consent. Further, this bill requires a controller of biometric data to adopt a written policy that does the following:

  • Establishes a retention schedule for biometric identifiers

  • Includes a protocol for responding to a breach of security of biometric identifiers or biometric data

  • Includes guidelines that require the permanent destruction of a biometric identifier by the earliest of certain dates

If signed this law will take effect July 1, 2025.

HB24-1132: This bill affords protections to living organ donors. The bill prohibits an employer from intimidating, threatening, coercing, discriminating, or retaliating against or taking an adverse action against an employee who as described in the bill, either 30 days before or 90 days after the employee is or becomes a living organ donor. The law does not provide employees with new additional leave, and employers are not required to allow a living organ donor to take any unpaid leave that they have not already accrued under the employer's existing policies applicable to similarly situated employees. This bill will take effect upon the governor’s signature.

HB24-1324: This bill grants the attorney general new rule-making authority over an employer’s ability to recover the expense of educating and training a worker where the training is distinct from normal, on-the-job training. It adds a requirement that, for an employer to recover the expense, the training must comply with rules promulgated by the attorney general regarding the transferability of the training or credentialing that is available to the employee as a result of the training. This bill will further regulate the recoverable expense of educating and training workers under Colorado’s restrictive covenant statute as other consumer debt and student debt. At this time, the attorney general has not released its proposed rules governing the recovery of these expenses. If signed this bill will take effect August 7, 2024.

HB24-1451: This bill concerns discrimination based on hair length. In 2020, the General Assembly enacted the CROWN Act of 2020, which specified that, for purposes of anti-discrimination laws, discrimination on the basis of one's race includes discrimination because of traits commonly or historically associated with race, such as hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles. The bill adds hair length that is commonly or historically associated with race to the list of traits associated with one's race. This bill will take effect upon the governor’s signature.

Other bills of note include the following:

HB24-1004: This bill establishes a uniform process for considering criminal records in occupational registration, certification, and licensure applications. It includes a wide range of careers from the construction and banking industries to IT. In determining whether an applicant for a state-regulated occupation is qualified to be registered, certified, or licensed, the bill allows the regulator to consider an applicant's conviction of a criminal offense if it is a violent felony or misdemeanor. If an offense is not violent but would otherwise disqualify a person from becoming registered, certified, or licensed, the regulator of each profession is not permitted to consider the person's criminal conviction for the offense after a three-year period has passed. If signed this bill takes effect August 7, 2024.

HB24-1220: This bill modifies Colorado’s workers’ compensation rules. Of note, the bill allows a claimant for workers' compensation benefits to refuse an offer of modified employment if the employment requires the claimant to drive to and from work and the treating physician has restricted the claimant from driving. If signed this bill takes effect August 7, 2024.

HB24-1360: This bill creates the Colorado Disability Opportunity Office (CDOO) within the department of labor and employment. Among other things, the CDOO will serve as a resource for contact for state agencies, private and nonprofit organizations, and the public concerning disability issues in Colorado, and work toward enhanced inclusion and equitable opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

HB24-1439: This bill creates a state tax credit for apprenticeships. For income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2025, but before January 1, 2035, the bill creates a refundable state income tax credit that an employer may claim if the employer employs an apprentice for at least six months during an income tax year and either has a registered apprenticeship program or is an employer-partner of a registered apprenticeship program. The amount of the tax credit is up to $6,300 for six months of employment plus up to $1,050 for each additional month of employment, for a maximum of up to $12,600 per apprentice per income tax year. An employer may not claim a credit for the following: more than 10 apprentices per income tax year; the same apprentice for more than 24 consecutive months; and an apprentice for months when the apprentice did not receive wages from the employer. To claim a tax credit, an employer must submit an application for the reservation of the tax credit and an application to receive an income tax credit certificate to the state apprenticeship agency in the department of labor and employment. Governor Polis signed this into law on May 10, 2024.

SB24-160: This bill resolves the conflict between the POWR Act of 2023 and the Colorado Open Records Act by allowing public inspection of records in an employer's designated repository that pertain to a sexual harassment complaint or investigation against an elected official found culpable of sexual harassment.

SB24-232: Updates definitions found in 2023’s PROPWA rules for Colorado public employers. In particular, the bill now provides definitions of “employee organization,” and “public employee” related to confidential and managerial employees. It further clarifies “protected concerted activity” and “material disruption of a public employee’s duties.” If signed this bill takes effect August 7, 2024.

Bills passed by the legislature but vetoed by Governor Polis include:

HB24-1008: This bill related to wage claims brought by individuals working in Colorado's construction industry. Along with information-sharing rules between general contractors and subcontractors, the bill specified that a general contractor entering into a construction contract would have been liable for all amounts owed to an employee for the employee's labor, construction, or other work, including amounts owed by a subcontractor acting under, by, or for the general contractor. The law would have required a subcontractor that received a written demand for payment to forward a copy of the written demand for payment to the general contractor within three business days after receipt. In his veto statement, Governor Polis said that he has worked to crack down on wage theft, but the bill would have done little to prevent it and unfairly punished good actors.

HB24-1260: This bill concerned required meetings of a political or religious nature. The bill prohibited an employer from subjecting or threatening to subject an employee to discipline, discharge, or an adverse employment action on account of the employee's refusal to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting concerning religious or political matters or for declining to listen to the speech of or view religious or political communications from the employer or the agent, representative, or designee of the employer. When Governor Polis vetoed this bill, he stated the definitions of "political matters" and "religious matters" were too broad to be workable. 

As previously mentioned, at the time this article was written, some of these bills were pending the signature of Governor Polis, except where noted, as in HB24-1439 or the vetoed bills. For further information on any of these bills, please contact Employers Council.

Drew Hintze is an attorney for Employers Council.

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