Keeping up with all the new Colorado laws for 2017 is no easy task. Laws are always changing both from the Legislature and from Colorado’s ballot issues, but our legal team at Iyer Law Offices in Denver likes to keep you up to date on what’s going on. So, let’s take a look at a few of the new laws that may affect you.
Constitutional Amendment Process
Amendment 71 passed during the last election, making the process of amending the Colorado Constitution more difficult. It requires a more expansive geographic distribution of those signing petitions to put a measure on the ballot. Signatures would have to be collected from each of the state’s 35 senate districts in numbers equal to at least 2 percent of the registered voters. It also requires 55 percent of the voters to approve it instead of a simple majority like it used to be.
Increases in Colorado State Minimum Wage
Do you or some of your family members work for minimum wage? If so, you will see an increase in pay. Amendment 70 to the Colorado Constitution was approved by the voters by more than a 10 percent margin. Its goal is to increase the minimum wage to improve the standard of living for Colorado workers with a livable wage.
According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics has adopted Colorado Minimum Wage Order Number 33 which will be effective January through the end of the year and increase the minimum wage for employees in Colorado. This year, it will go from $8.31 an hour to $9.30 per hour. Keep in mind that for tipped employees, no more than $3.02 per hour in tip income may be used to offset the minimum wage. That means tipped employees will make $6.28 an hour.
Every year going forward, Colorado’s minimum wage will be increased by $0.90 beginning each January 1 until it reaches $12 per hour in January of 2020. After that time, it will be raised each year for cost of living increases, as measured by the Consumer Price Index used for Colorado.
Here is how the new law will work, according to Section 15 of Article XVIII, of the Colorado Constitution: if either of the two categories applies to a Colorado employee, then the employee is required to get the $9.30 state minimum wage or the $6.28 state tipped employee minimum wage. Those categories are employees covered by the minimum wage provisions of either the Colorado Minimum Wage Order or Fair Labor Standards Act.
Colorado employers covered by the Wage Order are required to post the Colorado Minimum Wage Order Poster containing this information about minimum wage increases.
Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy-Related Health Conditions
Beginning in the summer of 2017, if an applicant for employment or an employee asks for reasonable accommodations because of any health condition associated with pregnancy or recovering from childbirth, an employer in Colorado must give it to them.
Depending on the circumstances, reasonable accommodations can include paid leave, unpaid leave, or transferring another employee to a different job to accommodate the employee with the health condition. However, there are some limits on what types of accommodations the employers must provide.
The law also states that employers are prohibited from:
- Taking adverse action against their employees who ask for an accommodation
- Denying employment opportunities because of the need to make the accommodations
- Imposing an unnecessary accommodation or one that the employee didn’t ask for
- Requiring the employee to take leave if other reasonable accommodations are available
Finally, employers must give a written notice to employees to inform them of these rights under this new Colorado law and the employer must be post it a place that is easily seen and accessible to all employees.
A new law requires medical professionals to provide written findings of disabilities when a patient seeks an assistance animal. It also makes it a Class 2 petty offense if they intentionally misrepresent the entitlement to an assistance animal or service animals. It carries a $25 fine for the first offense and increases with subsequent offenses up to a maximum of $500.
State Law No Longer Requires Employment Eligibility Verification
According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, a law becomes effective the summer of 2017 which no longer requires Colorado employers to complete an affirmation of legal work status for employees.
However, employers must still comply with the federal requirement which is Form I-9, the employment eligibility verification form. (8 U.S.C. sec. 1324a)
This means that Colorado has gotten rid of the requirement that employers must collect and retain state employment verification forms for each new hire. The Colorado legislature decided that the state collection of information was unnecessarily burdening employers because it was basically a repeat of the federal requirements for the Form I-9 and did nothing additional to ensure the legal work status of the Colorado employees.
Under this new law, the Director of the Colorado Division of Labor can still conduct random audits of employers and require employers to prove that they have complied with the federal law which requires completion of I-9 forms and employers still have to retain the affirmation forms and copies of I-9 documents for their existing employees that were hired between January 1, 2007, and August 9, 2016, as long as the workers are employed.
Beginning in 2007, businesses and other organizations hiring people in Colorado had to comply with the Colorado employment eligibility verification process, which required employers to verify the legal employment status of all new employees by reviewing and copying the employment eligibility documents required under the federal law.
The employer also had to fill out a Colorado affirmation of legal status form, and keep it with the copies of the identification documents. Colorado employers no longer required to complete the Colorado Affirmation Form for new employees.
Under the old repealed law, Colorado’s Employment-Verification Law required Colorado employers to complete the Affirmation Form, stating they had:
- Reviewed the legal work status of each employee
- Kept copies of the employee’s identification and employment authorization documents given for completion of the federal Form I-9
- Not falsified the employee’s identification documents
- Not knowingly hired an unauthorized alien
A new law makes changes to the child-support guidelines and statues. It allows the state to seize insurance claim payments, awards, and settlements to meet past-due child support payments. It also changes the definition of shared physical care so that it is based on overall parenting time instead of the number of overnight stays.
Employee Rights to View Their Personnel File
A new Colorado law makes it easier for employees to look at their personnel file if they want to. Prior to this law, some businesses refused to give employees access to their personnel file and there was no Colorado law saying whether an employer had to allow an employee to inspect his or her own personal file. Of course, many employers did allow employees to request to look at their files under certain conditions.
Now, employees can request to look at their personnel file at least once a year and at least one time after their termination. Employers can put some restrictions on an employee’s inspection rights and, there are some employers and employees who are excluded from this law.
If you are an employer, you may want to review company policies and update your employee manual and make needed changes based on these laws. If you are an employee, you need to be aware of the new employment laws and make sure they are being followed.
If you’d like to learn more, the Tornado website provides a complete list of all the new Colorado new laws for 2017. You can also contact our team at Iyer Law Office. Our Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Vee Iyer makes it a priority to stay up-to-date on new Colorado statutes and legal issues. Our goal is to always vindicate you of your charges and secure your freedom. Call our office today for a free consultation.