COVID-19 Personnel and Procurement Information

These Frequently Asked Questions have been developed to help address the impact COVID-19 may have on the State's workforce and operations. They are designed to help leadership, management, Human Resources Directors, Procurement Directors, Department Controllers, and all state employees (both classified and non-classified) navigate topics related to human resources, including staffing, leave, benefits, and workers' compensation and procurement, including purchasing, contracting, and contract management.

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Please regularly visit the CDPHE and CDC websites for the latest on what you can do to ensure you, your teammates, and your family remain safe.

If you have questions regarding these FAQs, please direct them to dpa_comments@state.co.us.

Last Updated: 02/02/2021

Personnel Questions

Q: Where can we find the latest updates on COVID-19 in general?

A: Please visit the State of Colorado's COVID-19 website or the Center for Disease Control website for general updates on the virus. This is where the most recent and accurate information on the virus can be found.

Q: What is the difference between self-isolation and self-quarantine?

A: Both self-isolation and self-quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Self-isolation should be used when an individual: (a) has a positive COVID-19 test; or (b) has symptoms of COIVD-19 (coughing, shortness of breath and/or fever); or (c) are getting ill and think they might have COIVD-19. 
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people, who were exposed to a contagious disease, to see if they become sick. Self-quarantine should be done by people who are close contacts of a person who either has a positive test or symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit the State's COVID-19 website for additional details.

Q: I am a manager or supervisor. What types of questions should I ask if an employee reports a concern that they have been exposed to COVID-19?

A: As a manager or supervisor, you are not to give a medical diagnosis but are permitted to ask questions of an employee to determine their ability to perform their work and the potential impact on the environment. Questions you may ask include: why do you think you have been exposed?, are you experiencing symptoms (as defined by the CDC)?, have you spoken to your doctor about the need for COVID-19 testing?, and have you been instructed to be tested?

Q: What is the guidance around informing state employees, building residents, meeting participants, or the public if there has been a positive case in the workplace?

A: First and foremost, as with any medical condition, confidentiality around an employee's health should be maintained to comply with federal regulations (FMLA, ADA, HIPAA). You may not disclose the identity of the infected employee. You may, however, provide general information (e.g. affected building, floor, or dates of exposure) that an employee has been infected to allow employees to monitor themselves for signs of symptoms. Employees should then be informed of any mitigating strategies that will be employed to ensure the safety of the work area, as well as modifications to their schedule or workplace. You should also immediately inform your executive leadership, who will take the lead in both discussions with CDPHE and also communicate about any closures.

Q: What should we do for employees who work in close proximity to an employee who is being tested for COVID-19 or has COVID-19 like-symptoms?

A: Clean the work spaces using CDPHE's cleaning guidance. Consider allowing employees to work from home, if possible, while the cleaning takes place. In many work situations, it will not be feasible to have employees work from home; in that situation, encourage employees to use good hygiene practices to lower immediate exposure risk and ask employees to monitor themselves for signs of symptoms. Employees should then be informed of any mitigating strategies that will be employed to ensure the safety of the work area. Mitigation strategies could include alternate work location or rotating shifts to reduce the number of employees in a certain area.

Q: What is social distancing?

A: Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

Q:  What are the requirements for paying exempt (salary) employees if they are unable to complete a full day or week of work?

A: The exempt employee must receive a full day's pay for the partial day worked if they are ready, willing, able, and engaged to work. Should the employee need to take time off for personal reasons, leave is used for the hours not worked.

Q. What are the requirements for paying non-exempt (hourly) employees if they are unable to complete a full day of work?

A: Non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked. There is no requirement to pay non-exempt employees for hours not worked. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, non-exempt employees who are ready, willing, able and engaged to work, will be placed on paid administrative leave when state facilities are closed and/or because they do not have the ability to work from home. Should the employee need to take time off for personal reasons, leave is used for the hours not worked.

Q: What plans does the State have to ensure that all State buildings are being cleaned well enough to prevent the virus from spreading?

A: DPA is working with custodial crews for capitol complex facilities to ensure they are following CDC and CDPHE guidelines in cleaning offices and following up-to-date best practices. Crews will continue to wipe down flat surfaces with necessary cleansers. They will not wipe down your computer or move documents or items in your office to clean under them. Agencies outside of capitol complex are working with their leasing partners to ensure prevention in their locations.

Q: Should employees wear a mask at work?

A: On April 3, Governor Polis encouraged every Coloradan, including state employees, to wear a mask when leaving the house. A simple cloth mask will suffice for non-medical personnel. With the severe shortage of medical-grade masks, it is imperative that all Coloradans leave those for medical professionals. 

Some agencies are requiring their employees and visitors to wear masks. If you work for one of these agencies, you have received notice of this from your leadership and you must wear a mask at work. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action.

There are online tutorials available for simple homemade masks, and the state is partnering with coloradomaskproject.com, where people can learn how to make masks and order materials.

Q: Are we implementing the temporary suspension of payments on federal student loan garnishment?

A: At this time, federal student loan garnishments are not suspended under the CARES Act. Changes to garnishments cannot be made without direct orders to do so from the receiver.

Q: What are Exposure Notifications?

A: CO Exposure Notifications is a free and voluntary cell phone service developed in partnership with Google and Apple that can notify users of possible exposure to COVID-19. By opting in, your Android or iPhone device will share anonymous tokens with other CO Exposure Notifications users using your phone's Bluetooth. If another user you've been near tests positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, the service will notify you. If you test positive, you can easily and anonymously notify others to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Tokens contain no personal information or location data and everything is completely anonymous.

Knowing about a potential exposure allows you to self-quarantine immediately, get tested, and reduce the risk to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and community.

  • Android users can download CO Exposure Notifications on the Google Play store

  • iPhone users can enable CO Exposure Notifications in their phone settings by finding Settings > Exposure Notifications > United States > Colorado.

Additional Notification Information and FAQs

Q: What responsibilities do employers have as it relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act?

A: The ADA and Rehabilitation Act rules continue to apply, but they do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.

Q: How much information may I request from an employee who calls in sick, in order to protect the rest of its workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: During a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask such employees if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus. For COVID-19, these include symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat. Employers may ask an employee's plans to be tested and/or the results of their test. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.

Q: How can we prepare for potential partial or full closure of State government operations?

A: Appointing authorities should be actively reviewing their current Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP), including identifying and designating classified and non-classified positions and employees in these positions as essential, critical or support staff.

Q: What are the definitions for essential, critical, and support staff?

A: The designations are defined as follows:

Critical Positions. Employees in these positions can be FLSA exempt or nonexempt and are expected to work and/or remain at their worksite in delayed start, early release, or closure situations, unless otherwise directed by their agencies. Employees receive their regular rate of pay for time worked. Employees who are non-exempt receive overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours in their FLSA workweek (or in excess of established work hours in adopted work periods for law enforcement, healthcare, and fire protection employees). 

Essential Positions. Employees in these positions can be only FLSA non-exempt and in positions that perform law enforcement, highway maintenance, and support services directly responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of patients, residents, students, and inmates. Employees receive their regular rate of pay for time worked and receive overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours in their FLSA workweek (or in excess of established work hours in adopted work periods for law enforcement, healthcare, and fire protection employees). Paid leave is counted as work time.

Support Positions. Employees in these positions are expected to backup critical personnel when asked and to be accessible to resume and/or perform their assigned duties. These employees are given instructions on how and where to perform these functions. Employees in these positions can be FLSA exempt or nonexempt. Employees receive their regular rate of pay for time worked. Employees who are non-exempt receive overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours in their FLSA workweek (or in excess of established work hours in adopted work periods for law enforcement, healthcare, and fire protection employees).

Q:  In the event of a partial or full closure of State government operations, can critical or support employees be required to report to work?

A:  Appointing authorities should be reviewing their current COOPs to determine if working from home can be accommodated for essential, critical, and support staff employees during the period of partial or full closure.

All employees can be required to report to work. Employees should be notified and given instructions on how and where they are required to report to work.

Q: How should agencies handle essential or critical staff who are unable to report to work because of dependent care issues?

A: Essential and critical employees may be eligible for EPSL (reason #5 childcare leave) or EPHL at their agencies discretion. However, all essential and critical staff are expected to exhaust emergency childcare resources available to them prior to requesting leave.

Q: We have employees who don't have full-time work they can do from home. How should we account for their time?

A: All agencies are encouraged to be creative with distribution of work and finding ways for employees to remain productive during this time. Consider redeploying employees to areas or worksites that need assistance, or redistributing back office work that might be done remotely away from employees who must report to the worksite. Assign projects for which there is typically little time (file clean up, process improvement, reviewing and updating position descriptions, performance appraisals, etc.) that can be done remotely. Institute rotating shifts to minimize the number of people in a space. Paid administrative leave may be appropriate as a last resort if other methods of keeping employees productive have been exhausted.

Q: Can an employee be required to perform work outside of the employee's position description (PD)?

A: Yes. Appointing authorities have the authority to assign work to employees, and any temporary assignment of duties beyond those listed in an existing PD can be considered "other duties as assigned" and do not impact classification. If duties become permanent, appointing authorities should update the position description accordingly.

Employees should recognize that especially during the COVID-19 crisis, it may become necessary to assign employees to perform work outside of their position description. Appointing Authorities should work with their HR teams on redeployment activities.

It should be noted that the FLSA does not limit the types of work employees age 18 and older may be required to perform.

Q: What if a building that employees work in (not a State building) closes?

A: Employees should work with their supervisors to determine how best to continue to support their operations. Options can include, but are not limited to, working from home, being reassigned to a different location, being reassigned to the central office, and/or being reassigned different job duties.

Q: Will there be any consideration for employees to be paid hazard pay for the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in doing the State's business?

A: Rather than hazard pay, which is currently limited to $1/hour, agencies are encouraged to use incentive pay or discretionary pay differentials, if possible, to compensate employees for working in positions that place them in direct and sustained contact with high-risk individuals.

Q:  Will the State continue to distribute mail to offices in the Front Range?

A: Yes. If all the employees in an office are on work from home schedules, offices are advised to designate an employee to come into the office periodically to open and distribute mail electronically to ensure we respond to the public appropriately. This might be particularly appropriate for someone who lives close to the work site and can get there easily. You might also consider this for an employee whose work does not allow them to work from home easily.

Q:What additional resources or support is the State providing to ensure critical services statewide (e.g. Unemployment Insurance claims processing) are available to Coloradans?

A: The State is currently identifying state-run offices which can benefit from additional support and creating a program that would allow state employees to volunteer to assist. The program will be launched in early April.

In the meantime, agencies are encouraged to be creative in strategies to ensure critical services are still available. This could include hiring strategies like temporary employees, asking retired employees to come back to assist, providing telework support to rural offices, and reaching out to other agencies that may have employees available to assist through inter-agency agreements. We recognize that many workplaces will struggle with staffing over the coming weeks. The Division of Human Resources Consulting Services team is available for consultation and will continue to look at other options to help departments with creative staffing solutions.

Q: During the stay at home order, can employees come into the office to retrieve necessary items, including the mail, to continue to be productive at home?

A: Employees need to follow their agency's specific guidance on this. Agencies have determined who and when people should be in the office while the stay home order is in effect.

Q: Is the COVID-19 pandemic preventing hiring?

A: Agencies are already finding creative ways to continue the selection process, leveraging technology wherever possible to maintain appropriate social distancing. To the extent an agency needs to fill a position, they should continue the process for doing so. If applicable, agencies continuing to hire should consider what the onboarding process will look like during a work from home environment and plan accordingly to make for a smooth onboarding process.

Q: What is the Colorado COVID-19 Dial Framework?

A: For Protect Our Neighbors, Safer at Home, and Stay at Home, Colorado’s Dial framework standardizes different levels of “openness” at the county level. It is a tool for counties to use to make life during the pandemic more sustainable, allowing us to balance, to the greatest extent possible, controlling the virus with our social and economic needs. 

State government offices must follow the local restrictions. Additionally, worksites in counties in the Orange, Red or Purple Levels must have all employees who can work remotely do so. The key takeaway is agencies with facilities in multiple counties will have to monitor and adhere to the different levels of “openness” especially with regard to offices and the percentage of employees occupying a workplace. 

Effective Friday, November 20, 2020 the Dial added a sixth level (Purple) and revises Level Red accordingly.

Colorado’s dial framework guides county response to COVID-19. Counties may move back and forth between levels, depending on three metrics. These metrics are the number of new cases, the percent positivity of COVID tests, and the impact on hospitals and local considerations. See below for more information. 

Six-level Dial and Dashboard

Learn about the dial framework

See the data trends for all 64 of Colorado's counties and find your county's level

Q: Which measurement on the COVID-19 County Dashboard should agencies use to determine whether employees should report to work or work from home if possible?

A: The Overall Status for the county in which the employee works is the basis for determining staffing needs for agency locations.

Q: How should employees who need to get tested proceed?

A: For the most current information on testing, including locations, employees can visit the CDPHE testing website and find CDPHE’s community testing sites here. Community testing sites are an easy option for anyone who needs tested, including state employees. Employees who are part of a high-risk job category and/or work at such facilities will be tested at the worksite as required by Public Health Orders. High-risk job categories include: healthcare workers, group housing workers, correctional workers, and long-term care facility workers.

Q: What should leadership consider when determining to close a facility due to a positive COVID-19 test of someone who was in a facility?

A: CDPHE recommends closing off the area(s) used by the infected person. If possible, wait 24 hours before thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched spaces and follow additional cleaning and disinfecting instructions.

CDPHE recommends that if two or more employee cases are confirmed within 14 days, the workplace/facility should temporarily close, and the outbreak should be reported immediately to the local public health agency. For additional workplace outbreak guidance, click here.

Q:  What if there are multiple confirmed or presumed positive COVID-19 cases in a facility?

A: Please see CDHPE's Workplace Outbreak Guidance regarding preventing, reporting, and mitigating outbreaks. With any single case, the work area should be cleaned thoroughly (refer to above regarding closures). Close contacts (e.g., coworkers who were in close contact with a sick individual) should be identified and quarantined. 

If there are two cases in 14 days, the agency should notify their local public health agency and/or CDPHE and file an outbreak reporting form. Closure of the facility may be recommended, for varying lengths of time. This depends on factors such as how many employees are ill or exposed, the ability of the facility to clean the affected area sufficiently with or without closing, other workplace infection prevention policies that are in place, and the type of work performed in the facility. The local public health agency and/or CDPHE will help make this determination.  

Q: What interventions should an agency consider to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A: To ensure continuity of operations, consider the following:

  • Allow employees work from home if possible. 
  • Request employees to change shifts to cover employee's assigned shift. 
  • Request or mandate employees to work extra shifts. 
  • Reassign employees in higher staffed locations to locations in need of additional staffing.
  • Consider reaching out to employees who have left state service to consider reinstatement. 
  • Allow use of overtime (consider cash compensation in lieu of comp time). 
  • Consult with human resources on options related to incentive pay (i.e., bonuses, discretional pay differentials, etc.).
  • Provide cross-training of employees to cover other positions as appropriate.
  • Utilize temporary employees.
  • If an employee has symptoms, they should be sent home as soon as possible. Do not wait for a positive test.

Q: If an employee is unable to get tested for COVID-19 due to lack of testing availability or doctor's direction to wait a certain amount of time first, will the employee still be eligible for paid administrative leave?

A: Generally, now that testing is more widely available, an employee should be able to find a way to get tested. If an employee has symptoms, they should be sent home as soon as possible. Employees are encouraged to call a healthcare provider, clinic, or hospital as the provider can give them instructions on whether they need to be tested and on where to go for care and testing. They may also access regional testing centers listed here. If instructed to seek care, they should follow the precautionary advice of the medical provider before going into any health facility.

We want to do our part to reduce the spread of infection, so if employees are unable to be tested through no fault of their own, we want to take care of them through Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), however, these should be rare circumstances, as testing is now widely available.

Q: Are there any plans to prioritize the testing of public servants when the need arises?

A: For the most current information on testing, including locations, employees can visit the CDPHE testing website and find CDPHE’s community testing sites here. Community testing sites are an easy option for anyone who needs tested, including state employees. Employees who are part of a high-risk job category and/or work at such facilities will be tested at the worksite as required by Public Health Orders. High-risk job categories include: healthcare workers, group housing workers, correctional workers, and long-term care facility workers.

Currently, the following is available to state employees who are covered under the Cigna medical plan and have access to Paladina Health. Paladina Health now has the capability, supplies, and protective equipment to test patients for COVID-19 at certain locations. Patients who suspect COVID infection should start by calling their local Paladina Health office for a medical evaluation. Due to fluctuating COVID testing supplies statewide, if Paladina Health is unable to perform a COVID-19 test, your care team will connect you with other community testing resources throughout the state. 

If you are a Kaiser Permanente member and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please visit kp.org/coronavirus or call their 24/7 advice line at 303-338-4545 or 1-800-218-1059 (TTY 711). Kaiser Permanente is increasing COVID-19 testing for symptomatic member and non-member health care workers and first responders (emergency medical technicians, law enforcement, firefighters, corrections officers) referred by CDPHE. Kaiser Permanente is also testing non-members referred by CDPHE who have been deemed essential to public welfare. Visit the Kaiser Permanente website for more information.

Q: How can we distinguish between a "suspected but unconfirmed" case of COVID-19 and a typical illness?

A: Not everyone will need to be tested for COVID-19. Per CDPHE guidance, self-isolation should be used when an individual: (a) has a positive COVID-19 test; or (b) has symptoms of COIVD-19 (coughing, shortness of breath and/or fever); or (c) are getting ill and think they might have COIVD-19. Symptoms, especially early on, may be mild and feel like a common cold. Early symptoms could include a combination of cough, body aches, fatigue, and chest tightness. Some people may not develop fever or fever may not appear until several days into the illness.

The EEOC has confirmed that you can inquire into an employee's symptoms, even if such questions are disability-related, as you would be considered to have a "reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the severe form of pandemic influenza poses a direct threat." Inquiries into an employee's symptoms should attempt to distinguish the symptoms of COVID-19 from the common cold and the seasonal flu. This should include inquiries into whether an employee is experiencing:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. Visit the CDC website for more information on symptoms and testing. 

It is important to remember that you must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.

Q: What is "surveillance testing" some state agencies are required to implement?

A: Surveillance testing is the use of rapid turn-around testing of residents and staff in all Colorado licensed or certified skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, assisted living residences, and group homes. These facilities are required to implement the restrictions and requirements for the implementation of COVID-19 ongoing surveillance testing of outbreak testing when needed of patients and staff and the allowance of visitors to these facilities. 

Facilities must comply with the current version of Public Health Order 20-20 pertaining to facility testing and visitation, along with the Guidance for Indoor Visitation in Residential Care Facilities and should continue to apply CDC guidance for infection prevention in residential care settings as required.

Q: As we anticipate an increase in medical visits, what is being done to increase telehealth and nurse advice line options for state employees? Are Kaiser Permanente and Cigna increasing staff or access in these areas?

A: Please see Cigna's COVID-19 Resource Page
 

Visit their website for additional information where you can find information about how Kaiser Permanente is responding to COVID-19.

Q: Who will pay for COVID-19 tests for people covered by the state benefit plans?

Kaiser and Cigna will cover the costs for COVID-19 tests, which must be ordered by a doctor. This means testing will be given without deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance requirements.

Additionally, Cigna will cover antibody/serology testing, for symptomatic individuals 21 years old or younger to aid in the diagnosis of suspected multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children [MIS-C], with no cost share to the member.

Q: If an employee needs to change their address or take other actions in the Employee Self Service (ESS), but are working remotely with no VPN access, what can be done?

A: Agencies have individuals who have the ability to make updates in the Colorado Personnel Payroll System (CPPS) that flow directly into ESS. Employees should contact their HR department if changes are needed.

Q: Due to school and daycare closures, what options are available to employees who are now unable to utilize all the funds set aside in their dependent care flexible spending accounts?

A: Employees can request to cancel or reduce their Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA). This transaction is prospective and cannot be lower than the amount already contributed. In order to cancel or reduce the amount, the employee must provide documentation that the daycare provider has closed to state_benefits@state.co.us and indicate to cancel DCFSA or the amount of the reduction.

Q: If dependent care facilities have been ordered closed by the State and no documentation has been provided by the daycare facility on the closure, what options do employees have for providing documentation to reduce dependent care flexible spending accounts?

A: During the COVID-19 crisis only, employees may use the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Life Event Attestation form in lieu of documentation from the facility.

Q: If a planned non-essential surgery or procedure is cancelled due to COVID-19, what options are available to employees who are now unable to utilize all the funds set aside in their health flexible spending account (FSA)?

A: Employees are currently allowed to carry over up to $500 of unused amounts remaining at the end of the plan year. There is a minimum carry over amount of $25. The IRS precludes the State from increasing this amount.

Q: If a 6-10 meeting needs to take place, can this be done remotely?

A: Yes, for the time being, we recommend that all 6-10 meetings should be offered via phone or videoconference whenever possible. Prior to the meeting, any documentation that will be discussed during the meeting should be provided to the employee. If the 6-10 meeting occurs in person, remember to practice proper social distancing. Work with your HR department to get updated 6-10 notices.

Q: Can employees travel for work out-of-state?

A: Out-of-state travel is permitted in order to assist other jurisdictions with emergencies (e.g. fires). All other out-of-state travel remains prohibited, within the Governor's purview, except by express written permission of the state personnel director.  For more information, please refer to this state government travel memo.

Q: Can employees travel for work in-state?

A: In-state travel is permitted only when necessary. Work with your supervisor regarding necessary travel. All agencies and institutions of higher education outside the Governor's purview are encouraged to adopt a similar policy. If you work for one of these agencies or institutions, please consult your leadership regarding this question.

Q: Are there special efforts taken with motor pool cars?

A: Yes. Prior to returning a motor pool car to the downtown State Motor Pool (1525 Sherman), all cars should be taken to WaterWorks Carwash, located at 276 Broadway in Denver for a "State Vehicle Cleaning Service" which will clean the exterior and interior high touch points throughout the vehicle. Water Works will invoice the State for the service. Motor pools located outside the Denver-metro area should have similar local protocols in place. Employees should be cognizant of washing or sanitizing their hands prior to getting back into a vehicle that has just been cleaned by a carwash. Check with your motor pool manager for established local procedures​.

Q: Can agencies require employees to report if they have traveled to areas where there is widespread community transmission?

A: Yes, however, consult the CDC travel website to determine the level of risk the employee may pose to the workplace based on the travel location. Based on the level of risk, CDPHE may advise employees to stay home from work for up to 14 days. If it is possible for the employee to work from home, then consider using this option to protect the health of other employees.

Q: Can agencies prevent employees from returning to work if they have traveled to areas where there is widespread community transmission?

A: If the employee is symptomatic, the employee should be placed on EPSL or, if that is exhausted, administrative leave until a COVID-19 diagnosis. If a diagnosis is confirmed, the employee should continue on EPSL or, if that is exhausted, paid administrative leave until they are no longer symptomatic as provided in the CDC Discontinuation of Home Isolation guidelines. If a diagnosis is not confirmed, the employee should be placed on sick leave until they are no longer symptomatic as provided in these guidelines. Our advice is to begin documentation for the Family Medical Leave process once the employee is ill in case complications arise. See FAQ specific to FMLA paperwork for more detailed guidance.

If the employee is not actively symptomatic, use the CDC risk assessment website and  any relevant travel warnings from CDPHE to evaluate the level of risk. If the risk is  high, consider if the employee is able to work from home. If so, the employee should  work from home for the virus's incubation period, which is generally 14 days. If working from home is not possible based on the nature of the employee's work, the appointing authority may grant paid administrative leave to cover the period of isolation or arrange to minimize contact with coworkers at the work site.

Q: How should agencies address personal travel or requests for annual leave for vacations (pre-approved or otherwise) with employees?

A: Appointing Authorities continue to have the ability to cancel any pre-approved or future requests for annual leave due to staffing shortages and/or business necessity. Keep in mind any cancelled leave is at risk of forfeiture if it is not taken by the end of the fiscal year. Should the employee not have a reasonable opportunity to use annual leave due to business necessity and it results in forfeiture, the forfeited hours must be paid out to the employee before the end of the fiscal year pursuant to rule 5-4.

If an employee plans on traveling out-of-state and has been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, they should avoid traveling. Should an employee travel to a location within the state identified as an area of community spread by CDPHE, they must self-report this to their supervisor before returning to the workplace.

Q: If an employee on annual leave knowingly travels to areas with community spread, do they get two weeks of paid administrative leave upon their return?

A: Executive Leadership should remind agency employees that as public servants, they are expected now, more than ever, to support the health and well-being of their communities by adhering to CDPHE's guidance and distancing themselves from areas experiencing community spread. Additionally, their services will be crucial in the upcoming weeks, and putting themselves at risk by traveling to these areas also puts the agency's mission and continuity of operations at risk.

Employees should disclose when they have traveled to a high-risk or high-occurrence area. These employees should work from home if able for a minimum of 72 hours or per CDPHE's guidance before returning to onsite work if asymptomatic. If unable to work from home, these employees should minimize contact with coworkers for a minimum of 72 hours or follow CDPHE's guidance for isolation of asymptomatic employees. In compliance with CDC Guidance, Essential Employees may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. Employees would not be given two weeks of paid administrative leave upon their return.

Q: Are agencies able to purchase travel insurance for cancelations due to COVID-19?

A: The State Controller approved a waiver of Fiscal Rule 5-1 and related policy so that agencies may purchase cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance. This waiver will remain in place until there is no longer a threat to public health due to COVID-19. The State Travel Management Services Price Agreements do not include trip cancellation coverage in their contracted rates. State-issued Commercial Cards do not offer cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance. This type of insurance needs to be purchased separately, and may be charged to your State Commercial Card. However, travel insurance may be costly and the value of such insurance should be considered carefully prior to purchase.

Q: What should employees consider for personal travel during the holidays?

A: To help mitigate the virus spread and not overwhelm hospitals, CDPHE is advising Coloradans to get a flu shot and not to do any unnecessary traveling during the holiday season. Travel can increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. For more information, visit the CDPHE travel website. With more counties moving to safer-at-home levels, CDPHE offers the following advice to keep areas from having to resort to stay-at-home orders:

  • Avoid in-person gatherings
  • Stay home when sick
  • Physical distance
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Sign up for Exposure Notifications
  • Anyone who may have been exposed to the virus but do not have symptoms should get tested. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, wait about seven days after the date you think you were exposed before getting tested, unless you develop symptoms. 
  • If you are exposed, quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the test results
  • People who have symptoms should get tested right away

Q: Will DPA provide a blanket waiver for personal services agreements for urgent needs in response to COVID-19 operations for every department in the Executive Branch? 

A: No. Personal services agreements require a personal service waiver be in place to ensure that the State isn't using a contractor in lieu of a state employee. Because personal services agreements cannot directly or indirectly impact the personnel system (e.g. employment or financial), DPA is unable to provide a blanket waiver specific to urgent needs in response to COVID-19. A personal services agreement is any kind of contract with an independent contractor who receives a 1099 or a leased worker from a temporary agency that is outside of normal W-2 employment. It does not include directly hiring temporary employees into Temporary Aide positions which can be utilized without a waiver.

Q: I have immediate resource needs for classified positions and don't have time for the hiring process, what can I do?

A: You can consider using a provisional appointment, in which you temporarily appoint a qualified individual from outside the state system into a classified position. An eligible list is not necessary for provisional appointments, and they do not need to be posted. Appointees cannot retain the position as provisional for longer than nine months from the date of entrance of duty or one month after the establishment of a referral list intended to permanently fill the position, whichever date is later. At the end of this time frame, the provisional employee must be separated. In order to move into this role permanently, an open-competitive process would have to occur within the established nine months.

Q: I have temporary employees approaching the nine-month limit for temporary employees. Can I extend them?

A: The nine month limit for temporary employees is in the Colorado Constitution and cannot be extended. Please contact Consulting Services at dhr_consultingservices@state.co.us to examine alternatives during the state of emergency.

Q: If a candidate for a classified position on a referral list declines to interview in-person due to COVID, should we remove them from the selection process?

A: We do not advise removing them from the selection process. Agencies should be as flexible as possible with interviewing during this period. Offer alternatives to in-person interviewing such as a virtual interview. Keep in mind that a virtual interview could be considered a reasonable accommodation during this time, and there may be obligations under the ADA.

Q: We are hiring employees during the outbreak; what steps can we take to protect our workforce?

A: The EEOC has provided guidance on this issue and has confirmed that you may screen applicants for symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus after you make a conditional job offer, as long as you do so for all entering employees in the same type of job. You can also take an applicant's temperature as part of a post-offer, pre-employment medical exam after you have made a conditional offer of employment. 

The EEOC has also said you may delay the start date of an applicant who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it. According to current CDC guidance, an individual who has the COVID-19 coronavirus or symptoms associated with it should not be in the workplace. The EEOC has also said you may withdraw a job offer when you need the applicant to start immediately but the individual has COVID-19 or symptoms of it.

The State will no longer provide FFCRA leave, as it expires on December 31, 2020. Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) is the new leave entitlement for state employees and FAQs addressing PHEL can be found in the section below titled "Healthy Families Workplaces Act: Public Health Emergency Leave".

Q: What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

A: The FFCRA is a federal law that increased funding for food assistance, Medicaid, unemployment assistance, and testing for the COVID-19 disease. It also requires the State to provide eligible employees with emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) or emergency public health leave (EPHL) for specified reasons related to COVID-19. FFCRA is in effect April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Q: What is emergency paid sick leave (EPSL)?

A: EPSL is for eligible employees to take for the following reasons:

  1. You are subject to quarantine or isolation order;
  2. You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns;
  3. You are experiencing symptoms of and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. You are caring for an individual who either is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns; or
  5. Your son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions;
  6. You are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The State will pay employees utilizing EPSL their regular rate of pay for reasons 1-4 and 6 and two-thirds pay for reason 5, up to 80 hours (pro-rated for part-time employees eligible for leave). While the FFCRA provides the ability to exempt essential and critical staff, the State has decided that all employees, including essential and critical staff, are eligible for EPSL under Reasons 1-3 and 6.

NOTE: Based on the business needs of an agency, essential and critical employees may be eligible for EPSL reasons 4 and 5. Note that this may evolve as the pandemic continues. Agencies are encouraged to balance the needs of employees with business needs and are granted the discretion to determine which critical and essential staff are eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) Qualifying Reason #4 (caring for quarantined individuals) and Reason #5 (caring for their child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons). Agencies will communicate directly with their essential and critical employees on their eligibility for EPSL reasons 4 and 5. NOTE: Due to staffing needs and to ensure continuity of operations, agencies may determine that essential and critical staff who have been granted leave may be asked to return to work due to business reasons, and may exercise the broad exemptions for healthcare workers and first responders provided by the FFCRA as needed.

NOTE: For Reason 5, EPSL is limited to two-thirds of the employee's regular rate up to $200 daily and $2,000 total in aggregate for the 2 weeks.

Q: What is emergency public health leave (EPHL)?

A: When the employee must care for their child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) and they cannot telework, a full-time employee is potentially eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave (two weeks of EPSL followed by up to 10 weeks of EPHL) at 40 hours a week (pro-rated  for part-time employees eligible for leave).

NOTE: Essential and critical staff may be eligible for EPHL at the discretion of their agency. Essential and critical staff may be exempted from EPHL based on the Department of Labor's guidance for exempting health care providers and emergency responders, broadly defined in question 56 and 57 of their FAQ.

EPHL is unpaid for the first two weeks of leave but EPSL or accrued leave can be used to cover up to 80 hours at two-thirds pay and the remaining 10 weeks is paid at two-thirds your standard rate of pay. Employees may supplement the two-thirds pay with any accrued leave to bring them to 100% pay.

NOTE: EPHL is limited to two-thirds of the employee's regular rate up to $200 daily and $10,000 total in aggregate for the 10 weeks, ($12,000 total in aggregate for EPSL and EPHL).

Q: Which employees are eligible for EPSL and EPHL?

A: All state employees are eligible including full-time and part-time employees, classified and non-classified, and temporary employees, paid by the state.

Essential and critical employees are eligible for EPSL reasons #1-#3 and #6. Discretion has been granted to agencies in determining which critical and essential staff are eligible for EPSL for Reasons #4 (caring for individuals under quarantine) and #5 (caring for their child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons), and Emergency Public Health Leave (EPHL) under the expanded Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) based on staffing needs and to ensure continuity of operations. Note that eligibility for essential and critical staff may change as the pandemic evolves.

There is one difference regarding an employee's eligibility for EPSL and EPHL. While an employee is eligible for EPSL regardless of length of employment, an employee must have been employed for 30 calendar days in order to qualify for EPHL. For example, if an employee requests EPHL on April 10, 2020, they must have been employed since March 11, 2020.

Q: What is my regular rate of pay for purposes of the FFCRA?

A: For purposes of the FFCRA, the regular rate of pay used to calculate paid leave is the average of your regular rate over a period of up to six months prior to the date on which you take leave. If you have not worked for your current agency for six months, the regular rate used to calculate your paid leave is the average of your regular rate of pay for each week you have worked for your current agency.

You can also compute this amount by adding all compensation that is part of the regular rate over the above period and divide that sum by all hours actually worked in the same period.

Q: May I take 80 hours of EPSL for my self-quarantine and then another amount of EPSL for another reason provided under the Act?

A: Employees are limited to 80 hours for a full-time employee (pro-rated for a part-time employee) of EPSL for any combination of the qualifying reasons. However, the total number of hours for which you receive EPSL is capped at 80 hours in a one (1) year period.

Q: Who is a "healthcare provider" for purposes of determining individuals whose advice to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 can be relied on as a qualifying reason for paid sick leave?

A: In this case, the term "healthcare provider" means a licensed doctor of medicine, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider permitted to issue a certification for purposes of the FMLA.

Q: If I am home with my child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, do I get EPSL, EPHL, or both—how do they interact?

A: If you are unable to telework, you may take both EPSL and EPHL to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. EPSL provides for an initial two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave. This period covers the first ten workdays of EPHL, which are otherwise unpaid under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act unless you elect to use EPSL or accrued leave. After the first ten work days have elapsed, you will receive EPHL of which is two-thirds of your regular rate of pay for the hours you would have been scheduled to work in the subsequent ten weeks. Employees may use EPSL intermittently up to 80 hours if they are able to telework or work on-site with an adjusted schedule.

Please note that you can only receive the additional ten weeks of EPHL to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons and you are unable to telework. Employees are encouraged to work with their supervisors to see how flexible scheduling may allow them to use EPHL intermittently and continue to work on-site or from home. Employees who use EPHL intermittently may do so up to 400 hours if they are able to telework or work on-site with an adjusted schedule.

NOTE: EPHL is limited to two-thirds of the employee's regular rate up to $200 daily and $10,000 total in aggregate for the 10 weeks, ($12,000 total in aggregate for EPSL and EPHL).

Q: Can my agency deny me EPSL if my agency gave me administrative leave for a reason identified prior to the Act going into effect?

A: The Act imposes a new leave requirement that the State must provide to employees beginning April 1, 2020 so agencies cannot deny the use of EPSL for eligible reasons.

Q: Is all leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) now paid leave?

A: Paid leave under the FMLA is limited to EPHL when such leave exceeds (10) ten days. This only applies to leave taken because the employee must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Q: Do I qualify for leave for a COVID-19 related reason even if I have already used some or all of my leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

A: If you are an eligible employee, you are entitled to EPSL regardless of how much leave you have taken under the FMLA.

However, your eligibility for EPHL under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act depends on how much FMLA leave you have already taken in the last 12 month period. You may take a total of 12 workweeks for FMLA or expanded family and medical leave reasons during a 12-month period. If you have taken some, but not all, of the 12 workweeks (480 hours if taken intermittently) of your leave under FMLA during the prior 12 month period, you may take the remaining portion of FMLA leave available. If you have already taken 12 workweeks (480 hours if taken intermittently) of FMLA leave during this 12-month period, you may not take additional EPHL under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

For example, assume you took two weeks of FMLA leave in January 2020 to undergo and recover from a surgical procedure. You therefore have 10 weeks of FMLA leave remaining. Because EPHL is a type of FMLA leave, you would be entitled to take up to 10 weeks of EPHL, rather than 12 weeks. And any EPHL you take would count against your entitlement to future FMLA leave during the 12-month period from the time you took in January 2020.

Q: Are the EPSL and EPHL requirements retroactive?

A: The requirements take effect April 1, 2020 and cannot be applied retroactively.

Q: What documents do I need to give my agency to get EPSL or EPHL?

A: Employees are required to submit the Leave Request Form under the FFCRA to your supervisor. Additionally, employees must self-certify the COVID-19-like illness by completing the State of Colorado Self-Certification Form for COVID-19-like Symptoms Form within 15 calendar days from the date of the first absence, barring extenuating circumstances, and present a signed copy to their supervisor, who will provide it to the agency's HR office. Your agency may also require you to provide additional documentation in support of your EPHL taken to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19-related reasons.

Please also note that all existing certification requirements under the FMLA remain in effect if you are taking leave for one of the existing qualifying reasons under the FMLA. For example, if you are taking leave beyond the two weeks of EPSL because your medical condition for COVID-19-related reasons rises to the level of a serious health condition, you must continue to provide medical certifications under the FMLA if required by the agency.

Q: When am I able to telework under the FFCRA?

A: You may telework when your supervisor allows you to perform work while you are at home or at a location other than your normal workplace. Telework is work for which normal wages must be paid and is not compensated under the paid leave provisions of the FFCRA.

Q: What does it mean to be unable to work, including telework for COVID-19 related reasons?

A: You are unable to work if your agency has work for you and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons prevents you from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at your normal worksite or by means of telework.

If you and your supervisor agree that you will work your normal number of hours, but outside of your normally scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then you are able to work and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents you from working that schedule.

Q: If I am or become unable to telework, am I entitled to paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

A: If your supervisor permits teleworking—for example, allows you to perform certain tasks or work a certain number of hours from home or at a location other than your normal workplace—and you are unable to perform those tasks or work the required hours because of one of the qualifying reasons for EPSL, then you are entitled to take EPSL.

Similarly, if you are unable to perform those teleworking tasks or work the required teleworking hours because you need to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, then you are entitled to take EPHL. Of course, to the extent you are able to telework while caring for your child, EPSL and EPHL is not available.

Q: May I take my EPSL or EPHL intermittently while teleworking?

A: Yes, if your supervisor allows it and if you are unable to telework your normal schedule of hours due to one of the qualifying reasons. In that situation, you and your supervisor may agree that you may take EPSL intermittently while teleworking. Similarly, if you are prevented from teleworking your normal schedule of hours because you need to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, you and your supervisor may agree that you can take EPHL intermittently while teleworking.

You may take intermittent leave in any increment, provided that you and your supervisor agree. For example, if you agree on a 90-minute increment, you could telework from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM, take leave from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM, and then return to teleworking.

Agencies and supervisors are highly encouraged to collaborate with employees to achieve flexibility and meet mutual needs including voluntary arrangements that combine telework and/or intermittent leave.

Q: May I take EPSL intermittently while working at my usual worksite (as opposed to teleworking)?

A: It depends on why you are taking EPSL and whether your supervisor agrees. Unless you are teleworking, EPSL for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19 must be taken in full-day increments and cannot be taken intermittently if it is taken for the following related to COVID-19:

  1. You are subject to quarantine or isolation order;
  2. You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns;
  3. You are experiencing symptoms of and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. You are caring for an individual who either is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns; or
  5. You are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services

Unless you are teleworking, once you begin taking EPSL for one or more of these qualifying reasons listed above, you must continue to take EPSL each day until you either (1) use the full amount of the EPSL or (2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking EPSL. This limit is imposed because if you are sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, or caring for an individual who is sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, the intent of FFCRA is to provide such EPSL as necessary to keep you from spreading the virus to others.

If you no longer have a qualifying reason for taking EPSL before you exhaust your EPSL, you may take any remaining EPSL at a later time, until December 31, 2020, if another qualifying reason occurs.

In contrast, if you and your supervisor agree, you may take EPSL intermittently if you are taking EPSL to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons. For example, if your child is at home because his or her school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, you may take EPSL on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to care for your child, but work at your normal worksite or telework on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Supervisors and employees are encouraged to collaborate to achieve maximum flexibility. Therefore, if supervisors and employees agree to intermittent leave on less than a full work day for employees taking EPSL to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19-related reasons, the Department is supportive of such voluntary arrangements.

Q: May I take EPHL intermittently while my child's school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons, if unable to telework and must report to work?

A: Yes, but only with your supervisor's permission. Intermittent EPHL is permitted only when you and your supervisor agree upon such a schedule. For example, if your supervisor and you agree, you may take EPHL on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but work Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Supervisor and employees should collaborate to achieve flexibility. Therefore, if supervisors and employees agree to intermittent leave on a day-by-day basis, such voluntary arrangements are encouraged.

Q: If I elect to take EPSL or EPHL, must the State continue my healthcare coverage? If I remain on leave beyond the maximum period of EPHL, do I have a right to keep my healthcare coverage?

A: You are entitled to continued group healthcare coverage during your EPHL on the same terms as if you continued to work. You generally must continue to make any normal contributions to the cost of your health coverage.

Q: May I use accrued leave and EPSL and EPHL concurrently for the same hours?

A: If you are receiving two-thirds of your normal earnings from EPHL under the FFCRA, you may use accrued annual or sick leave to get the additional one-third of your normal earnings so that you receive your full normal earnings for each hour.

Q: Do high-risk individuals qualify for the FFCRA?

A: Yes, under the State of Colorado Public Health Order, individuals who are deemed high-risk by CDPHE are urged to remain home, and thus would be covered under the FFCRA. Employees should provide a completed FFCRA Leave Request Form and submit it to their agency's HR or leave administrator. 

For employees who are high-risk due to their own health condition, certification of the condition and high-risk status from a health care provider should also be submitted. Employees who are high-risk due to age will not be required to provide additional documentation.

Q: If an employee just returned from international travel, do they qualify for EPSL under the FFCRA?

A: Yes. This case would qualify as EPSL, because the CDC is recommending that anyone returning from international travel should self-isolate for 14 days. The employee should be given all work from home options first before putting them on EPSL.

Q: If an employee has previously exhausted 12 weeks of FML and needs to be home for child care, will the employee have job protection under FML?

A: If an employee has exhausted their 12 weeks of FML, then they are not eligible for EPHL and would not have job protection under FML if they take off additional time for child care purposes.

Q: Are employees who have been sent home by their agency due to possible exposure to COVID-19, but are asymptomatic, eligible for EPSL?

A: First, the option of telework should be considered. Because the employee is now "high-risk" due to their exposure to COVID-19, they would be eligible for EPSL. An employee may take paid sick leave only if being subject to a public health order prevents them from working or teleworking. If they are not able to telework, they may be placed on EPSL to isolate them from other employees. If the employee exhausts the 80 hours of EPSL but subsequently becomes ill with COVID-19 and needs more time to recover, they may be granted paid administrative leave.

Q: Does the state allow employees to utilize their own leave to supplement the FFCRA EPSL (for child care) and EPHL leave that pays two-thirds pay?

A: Yes, the State Personnel Director approved of allowing employees to use any accrued leave at their discretion to supplement the two-thirds for EPSL and EPHL.

Q: Can parents who both work for the State each take EPSL or EPHL to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons?

A: In the case that both caretakers work for the State, they may take EPSL and/or EPHL at separate times to care for a child when necessary, and actually are, caring for a child if they are unable to work or telework as a result of providing care. Generally, employees do not need to take such leave if a co-parent, co-guardian, or your usual child care provider is available to provide the care your child needs.

To the extent possible, agencies should consider developing alternative shifts to allow essential and critical employees to care for children and/or to maintain social distancing by minimizing the number of employees in the workplace.

The Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative has established an emergency childcare system for essential and emergency workers. 2-1-1 Colorado can also help interested families. Families who need help in identifying child care and aren't in need of financial assistance can also reach out to Colorado Shines Child Care Referral for assistance, through any of the below methods: 

Q: I am an employee. I become ill with COVID-19 symptoms, decide to quarantine myself for two weeks, and then return to work. I do not seek a medical diagnosis or the advice of a health care provider. Can I get paid for those two weeks under the FFCRA?

A: Generally no. If you become ill with COVID-19 symptoms, you may take EPSL under the FFCRA only to seek a medical diagnosis or if a health care provider otherwise advises you to self-quarantine. If you test positive for the virus associated with COVID-19 or are advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, you may continue to be on EPSL for up to 80 hours. You may not take EPSL if you unilaterally decide to self-quarantine for an illness without medical advice, even if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Note that you may not take EPSL, if you become ill with an illness not related to COVID-19. Depending on your physical condition and in coordination with your supervisor, you may be able to telework during your period of quarantine or you may have to take sick leave.

Q: When am I eligible for EPSL to care for someone who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order?

A: You may take EPSL to care for an individual who, as a result of being subject to a quarantine or isolation order (see Question 53 in the Department of Labor's FAQ), is unable to care for themselves and depends on you for care and if providing care prevents you from working and from teleworking.

Furthermore, you may only take EPSL to care for an individual who genuinely needs your care. Such an individual includes an immediate family member or someone who regularly resides in your home. You may also take EPSL to care for someone if your relationship creates an expectation that you would care for the person in a quarantine or self-quarantine situation, and that individual depends on you for care during the quarantine or self-quarantine. For example, an adult child caring for an elderly parent who lives on their own.

You may not take EPSL to care for someone with whom you have no relationship. Nor can you take EPSL to care for someone who does not expect or depend on your care during their quarantine or self-quarantine.

Q: When am I eligible for EPSL to care for someone who is self-quarantining?

A: You may take EPSL to care for a self-quarantining individual who is an immediate family member or someone who regularly resides in your home if a health care provider has advised that individual to stay home or otherwise quarantine themselves because they may have COVID-19 or is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and provision of care to that individual prevents you from working (or teleworking).

Q: Is the stay at home order considered an isolation order that the employee can claim 100% paid leave under the 80 hours of EPSL?

A: The stay-at-home order allows for employees of essential businesses (like the State) to report to work (or telework), so they would not be eligible for EPSL under the order. If an employee is ill or at high risk for infection and cannot telework, the order urges those individuals to stay home and they would be eligible for EPSL. If the employee is choosing to self-isolate, without any orders from a medical professional, they would need to use accrued time.

Q: Would an employee who has a disabled adult child whose day facility has shut down due to COVID-19 be eligible for EPSL and EPHL to care for the child?

A: Coverage under FFCRA for adult children follows the same rules as FMLA. In general, an employee may not take EPSL or EPHL to care for a son or daughter who is 18 years of age or older. However, an employee may take EPSL or EPHL to care for a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, who is 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.

Q: If a critical or essential employee is deemed not eligible for EPSL or EPHL, can they use their own sick leave for child care?

A: Based on emergency rule 5-41, the employee could use any accrued leave (annual, sick or compensatory) for child care.

Q: If an employee is assisting in taking care of a grandchild due to a school or daycare closure during COVID-19, what leave would they be able to take?

A: Employees may use any accrued leave (annual, sick or compensatory) pursuant to rule 5-41 to help out with childcare.

Q: If a child's school is operating on a hybrid attendance schedule (e.g. alternate day in person with remote learning), can an employee take paid leave under the FFCRA?

A: Yes, an employee may take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when a child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning. For purposes of the FFCRA, the school is effectively "closed" to a child on days that they cannot attend in person. An employee may take paid leave under the FFCRA on each remote-learning day.

Q: If a school gave a choice between having students attend in person or participate in a remote learning program and an employee chose the remote learning option due to concerns about COVID-19, can the employee take paid leave under the FFCRA?

A: No, even if an employee chooses to keep a child at home, FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. For the purposes of the FFCRA, employees are not eligible to take paid leave because the child's school is not "closed."However, if a child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to COVID-19, employees may be eligible to take paid leave to care for the child.

Q: Can employees take paid leave under the FFCRA if a child's school is beginning the school year under a remote learning program out of concern for COVID-19, but will continue to evaluate local circumstances and make a decision about reopening for in-person attendance later in the school year?

A: Yes, employees are eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA while a child's school remains closed. If a school reopens, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will be available only on days when remote learning is required.

Q: What is Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)? 

A: The Healthy Families Workplaces Act (HFWA) is a law that requires the State to provide employees with Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) for specified reasons related to a declared public health emergency (currently, COVID-19) effective January 1, 2021. The State will provide employees up to eighty (80) hours of paid leave (prorated for a part-time employee) during the entirety of a public health emergency even if such public health emergency is amended, extended, restated, or prolonged, and until four (4) weeks after the public health emergency leave ends. PHEL provisions replace the required emergency paid sick leave and public health emergency leave provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which expired on December 31, 2020. 

Q: What are the specific reasons for PHEL?

A: Eligible employees may take PHEL for the following reasons:

  1. Needing to self-isolate because the employee is diagnosed or experiencing symptoms of the communicable illness
  2. Seeking or obtaining medical diagnosis, care or treatment, preventative care, or care of such illness;
  3. Being exposed to, or experiencing symptoms of, such illness;
  4. Being unable to work due to a health condition that may increase susceptibility or risk of such illness;
  5. Caring for a child or other family member for reasons 1, 2, or 3 above, or whose school, child care provider, or other care provider is either unavailable, closed, or providing remote instruction due to the public health emergency; or
  6. Closure of the temporary employee's work location, and work cannot be performed remotely. 

Q: Which employees are eligible for PHEL?

A: Regardless of tenure, all state employees are eligible including full-time and part-time employees, classified and non-classified, and temporary employees who are paid by the state. 

Q: Can an employee take 80 hours of PHEL for self-quarantine and then another amount of PHEL for another reason provided under the Act?

A: Employees are limited to eighty (80) hours for a full-time employee (prorated for a part-time employee) of PHEL for any combination of the qualifying reasons. The total number of hours for which an employee receives PHEL is capped at eighty (80) hours during the entirety of a public health emergency even if such public health emergency is amended, extended, restated, or prolonged. Employees should work with their supervisor and agency human resources office if they have additional needs for leave.

Q: If an employee is home with a child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, does the employee get PHEL?

A: If an employee is unable to work remotely, they may take PHEL to care for the child whose school or place of care is closed, or their child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. PHEL provides for eighty (80) hours of paid leave, prorated for part-time employees. 

Employees may use PHEL intermittently, up to eighty (80) hours, if they are able to work remotely or work on-site with an adjusted schedule. Employees are encouraged to work with their supervisors to see how flexible scheduling may allow them to use PHEL intermittently and continue to work on-site or remotely.

Q: Can an agency deny PHEL if an employee was given administrative leave and/or FFCRA related leave for a reason identified prior to the Act going into effect?

A: HFWA imposes a new leave requirement, PHEL, that the State must provide to employees beginning January 1, 2021 so agencies cannot deny the use of PHEL for eligible reasons. FFCRA expired on December 31, 2020 and should not be utilized.

Q: Does an employee qualify for leave for a COVID-19 related reason even if they have already used some or all of their leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

A: If an employee is an eligible employee, they are entitled to PHEL regardless of how much leave they have taken under the FMLA.

Q: Are the PHEL requirements retroactive?

A: The requirements take effect January 1, 2021 and cannot be applied retroactively.

Q: What documents do employees need to provide to their agency for PHEL?

A: Documentation is not required for PHEL. However, employees shall notify their supervisors or managers of their need for leave as soon as practicable if (1) the need for leave is foreseeable and (2) the employer's place of business is not closed. 

Q: When are employees able to work remotely under the HFWA?

A: Employees may work remotely when their supervisor allows them to perform work while at home or at a location other than their normal workplace. Remote work is work for which normal wages must be paid and is not compensated under the paid leave provisions of the HFWA.

Q: What does it mean to be unable to work, including working remotely for COVID-19 related reasons?

A: Employees are unable to work if their agency has work for an employee and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons prevents an employee from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at their normal worksite or by means of remote work.

If an employee and their supervisor agree that they will work their normal number of hours, but outside of the normally scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then the employee is able to work and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents them from working that schedule.

Q: If an employee is or becomes unable to work remotely, are they entitled to PHEL?

A: If the supervisor permits remote work. For example, allows the employee to perform certain tasks or work a certain number of hours from home or at a location other than the normal workplace and the employee is unable to perform those tasks or work the required hours because of one of the qualifying reasons for PHEL, then they are entitled to take PHEL.

Q: Can an employee take PHEL intermittently while working remotely?

A: Yes, if the supervisor allows remote work and the employee is unable to work remotely within normal schedule of hours due to one of the qualifying reasons. In that situation, the employee and the supervisor may agree that PHEL can be taken intermittently while working remotely. Similarly, if an employee is prevented from working remotely within normal schedule of hours because they need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, the employee and the supervisor may agree that PHEL can be taken intermittently while working remotely.

Intermittent leave can be taken in any increment, provided that the employee and supervisor agree. For example, if a 90-minute increment is agreed upon, the employee could work remotely from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM, take leave from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM, and then return to remote work.

Agencies and supervisors are highly encouraged to collaborate with employees to achieve flexibility and meet mutual needs including voluntary arrangements that combine remote work and/or intermittent leave.

Q: Can an employee take PHEL intermittently while working at their usual worksite (as opposed to working remotely)?

A: It depends on why the PHEL is being taken and whether the supervisor agrees. Unless an employee is working remotely, PHEL must be taken in full-day increments and cannot be taken intermittently if it is taken for the qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.

Unless the employee is working remotely, once they begin taking PHEL for one or more of these qualifying reasons listed above, they must continue to take PHEL each day until they either (1) use the full amount of the PHEL or (2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking PHEL. This limit is imposed because if an employee is sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, or caring for an individual who is sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, the intent of HFWA is to provide such PHEL as necessary to keep from spreading the virus to others.

Q: Can an employee take PHEL intermittently while a child's school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons, if they are unable to work remotely and must report to work?

A: Yes, but only with the supervisor's permission. Intermittent PHEL is permitted only when an employee and their supervisor agree upon such a schedule. For example, if agreed upon, an employee may take PHEL on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but work Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Supervisor and employees should collaborate to achieve flexibility. Therefore, if supervisors and employees agree to intermittent leave on a day-by-day basis, such voluntary arrangements are encouraged.

Q: If an employee elects to take PHEL, must the State continue their healthcare coverage? If an employee remains on leave beyond the maximum period of PHEL, do they have a right to keep my healthcare coverage?

A: Employees are entitled to continued group healthcare coverage during your PHEL on the same terms as if they continued to work. The employee generally must continue to make any normal contributions to the cost of their health coverage.

Q: Do high-risk individuals qualify for the PHEL?

A: Yes, under the State of Colorado Public Health Order, individuals who are deemed high-risk by CDPHE are urged to remain home, and thus would be covered under HFWA. An employee shall notify their supervisor or manager of their need for leave as soon as practicable if (1) the need for leave is foreseeable and (2) the employer's place of business is not closed. 

Q: Are employees who have been sent home by their agency due to possible exposure to COVID-19, but are asymptomatic, eligible for PHEL?

A: First, the option of remote work should be considered. Because the employee is now "high-risk" due to their exposure to COVID-19, they would be eligible for PHEL. An employee may take paid sick leave only if being subject to a public health order prevents them from working or working remotely. If they are not able to work remotely, they may be placed on PHEL to isolate them from other employees. If the employee exhausts the 80 hours of PHEL but subsequently becomes ill with COVID-19 and needs more time to recover, they should work with their supervisor and agency human resources office to determine additional leave options.

Q: Can parents who both work for the State each take PHEL to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons?

A: In the case that both caretakers work for the State, they may take PHEL at separate times to care for a child when necessary, as long as they are actually caring for a child and unable to work or telework as a result of providing that care. Generally, employees do not need to take such leave if a co-parent, co-guardian, or their usual child care provider is available to provide the care their child needs.

To the extent possible, agencies should consider developing alternative shifts to allow essential and critical employees to care for children and/or to maintain social distancing by minimizing the number of employees in the workplace.

The Colorado Office of Early Childhood provides resources to families in need. 2-1-1 Colorado can also help interested families. Families who need help in identifying child care and aren't in need of financial assistance can also reach out to Colorado Shines Child Care Referral for assistance, through any of the below methods: 

Q: When is an employee eligible for PHEL to care for someone who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order?

A: Employees may take PHEL to care for a family member who is, as a result of being subject to a quarantine or isolation order, unable to care for themselves and depends on the employee for care and if providing care prevents the employee from working either in person or remotely.

Furthermore, employees may only take PHEL to care for a family member who genuinely needs care. Qualifying "family" members are immediate family (related by blood, adoption, marriage, or civil union), a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis or a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a minor or anyone else for whom the employee is responsible for providing or arranging health- or safety-related care.

Q: When is an employee eligible for PHEL to care for someone who is self-quarantining?

A: Employees may take PEHL to care for a self-quarantining individual who is an immediate family member or someone who regularly resides in their home if a health care provider has advised that individual to stay home or otherwise quarantine because they may have COVID-19 or is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and provision of care to that individual prevents them from working (or working remotely).

Q: Is the stay at home order considered an isolation order that the employee can claim 100% paid leave under the 80 hours of PHEL?

A:  The stay-at-home order allows for employees of essential businesses (like the State) to report to work (or work remotely), so they would not be automatically eligible for PHEL under the order. If an employee is ill or at high risk for infection and cannot work remotely, the order urges those individuals to stay home and they would be eligible for PHEL. If the employee is choosing to self-isolate, without any orders from a medical professional, they would need to use accrued time.

Q: Would an employee who has a disabled adult child whose day facility has shut down due to COVID-19 be eligible for PHEL to care for the child?

A: In general, an employee may only take PHEL to care for a family member who genuinely needs care. Qualifying "family" members are immediate family (related by blood, adoption, marriage, or civil union), a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis or a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a minor or anyone else for whom the employee is responsible for providing or arranging health- or safety-related care.

Q: If an employee is assisting in taking care of a grandchild due to a school or daycare closure during COVID-19, what leave would they be able to take? 

A: Employees may use any accrued leave (annual, sick or compensatory) pursuant to rule 5-40 to help out with childcare.

Q: If a child's school is operating on a hybrid attendance schedule (e.g. alternate day in person with remote learning), can an employee take PHEL? 

A: Yes, an employee may take PHEL on days when a child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning. For purposes of the HFWA, the school is effectively "closed" to a child on days that they cannot attend in person. An employee may take PHEL on each remote-learning day if their child requires care on those days and they are unable to work remotely.

Q: If a school gave a choice between having students attend in person or participate in a remote learning program and an employee chose the remote learning option due to concerns about COVID-19, can the employee take PHEL?

A: No, even if an employee chooses to keep a child at home, PHEL is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. For the purposes of the PHEL, employees are not eligible to take paid leave because the child's school is not "closed." However, if a child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to COVID-19, employees may be eligible to take PHEL to care for the child. 

Q: Can employees take paid leave under the HFWA if a child's school is beginning the school year under a remote learning program out of concern for COVID-19, but will continue to evaluate local circumstances and make a decision about reopening for in-person attendance later in the school year?

A: Yes, employees are eligible to take paid leave under the HFWA while a child's school remains closed. If a school reopens, the availability of paid leave under the HFWA will be available only on days when remote learning is required.

Q: Employees may need to cancel the use of annual leave based on agency needs. Will employees still lose annual leave on June 30 if it's over the maximum allowed?

A: Employees should work with their supervisor to ensure they have the opportunity to use their annual leave before the end of the fiscal year. If employees do not have a reasonable opportunity to use their annual leave based on business necessity and it results in forfeiture of annual leave, the forfeited annual hours may be paid before the end of the fiscal year or during this state of emergency, at the discretion of the department and employee, employees may roll over up to 80 hours of annual leave into the next fiscal year (FY 2021). The rolled-over leave must be used before the end of FY 2021. It will not roll over for a second fiscal year (FY 2022). Employees may still opt to be paid out the over accrued annual leave if they choose. Additionally, accrued annual leave in excess of the eighty (80) hours over the maximum accrual allotment that the department cancelled will be paid out to the employee.

Q: Will the State advance sick leave for employees who have COVID-19, are suspected to have COVID-19, or are taking care of a family member with COVID-19?

A: As of April 1, 2020 employees who have COVID-19 or taking care of family member with COVID-19 are entitled to Emergency Paid Sick Leave of up to 80 hours paid at their regular rate of pay. Should an employee need to take additional time off for these situations, they would be placed on paid administrative leave until they or their family member has had no fever for at least 72 hours (without using medicine that reduces fevers) AND other symptoms have improved AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Q: If an employee has been out on leave and is now ready, willing, and able to work, how should agencies handle that?

A: To the extent possible, all employees ready, willing, and able to work should be given work to do. All agencies are encouraged to be creative with distribution of work and finding ways for employees to remain productive during this time. Consider redeploying employees to areas or worksites that need assistance, or redistributing back office work that might be done remotely away from employees who must report to the worksite. Assign projects for which there is typically little time (file clean up, process improvement, reviewing and updating position descriptions, performance appraisals, etc.) that can be done remotely. Institute rotating shifts to minimize the number of people in a space. Paid administrative leave may be approved as a last resort if other methods of keeping employees productive have been exhausted.

Q: If an employee has symptoms, can we force them to get tested?

A: If an employee has symptoms, they should be sent home immediately. You should encourage, but cannot require, them to call a healthcare provider, clinic, or hospital as the provider can give them instructions on whether they need to be tested and on where to go for care and testing. If instructed to seek care, they should follow the precautionary advice of the medical provider before going into any health facility. See CDPHE's guidance on testing. You may require an employee to be tested as a condition of returning to work.

Q: Are we going to require employees to submit a medical certification for absences longer than three days, or a fitness to return if they are absent from work due to illness (required by personnel statute)?

A: On March 11, 2020, the Governor issued an executive order temporarily suspending the requirement for a doctor's note for absences from work for three or more consecutive days due to COVID-19-like symptoms. In lieu of a doctor's note, employees must self-certify the COVID-19-like illness by completing the State of Colorado Self-Certification Form for COVID-19-like Symptoms Form within 15 calendar days from the date of the first absence, barring extenuating circumstances, and present a signed copy to their supervisor, who will provide it to the agency's HR office. The suspension of the medical certificate requirement does not suspend any documentation requirements that pertain to serious health conditions or injuries, as defined in the State Personnel Administrative Procedures, Rule 1-69, that may qualify for job-protection under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Q: When can employees return to work following COVID-19-like symptoms?

A: Use the CDC Discontinuation of Home Isolation guidelines to determine if it's safe for an employee who has been out ill to return to work. Currently, their guidelines indicate it is safe when the employee is free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants) AND at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Please refer to their website for any updates to this guidance.

Q: What is the guidance around the use of leave sharing programs?

A: Employees who have leave available to donate may continue to utilize their agency's leave sharing program to support their colleagues during this period. Agencies should review their current program in conjunction with rules 5-8 and 5-9.

Q: What is the guidance around the use of overtime and/or comp time for employees called in to cover work for an infected employee?

A: Agencies are encouraged to evaluate their current policies to ensure they are able to allow payout of overtime if budgets allow. Overtime/Compensatory time must be granted only to non-exempt employees who are working more than 40 hours in their FLSA workweek. Exempt employees who are covering for absences may be granted incentive pay or paid administrative leave as recognition of their efforts based on an agency's existing compensation policies.

Q: Emergency rule 5-4 allows the roll over of up to 80 hours annual leave due to employees not having a reasonable opportunity to use their annual leave based on business necessity during the COVID-19 crisis. If the State of Disaster Emergency ends prior to June 30, is the rule no longer effective and leave would not be rolled over?

A: If an employee was precluded from taking leave as a result of business need during the State of Disaster Emergency, the employee would have the option to roll over 80 hours of that leave or have the leave paid out. Once the State of Disaster Emergency ends, employees who are precluded from taking annual leave because of business need will only be permitted to have the leave paid out.

Q: With emergency rules being effective April 1, can agencies retroactively apply emergency rule 5-7 back to the date of the declared state of emergency so employees can be allowed to go negative 40 hours in their sick leave bank and reassign sick hours that were unpaid (leave without pay) in March to a negative leave balance?

A: Emergency rule 5-7 cannot be applied retroactively before April 1. The emergency rule is effective the day it is signed by the State Personnel Director and expires in 120 days. The rule may be applied on the effective date and any date thereafter until it expires.

Q: Due to safety and health concerns related to COVID-19, many healthcare providers are treating patients for a variety of conditions, including those unrelated to COVID-19, via telemedicine. Telemedicine involves face-to-face examinations or treatment of patients by remote video conference via computers or mobile devices. Under these circumstances, will a telemedicine visit count as an in-person visit to establish a serious health condition under the FMLA?

A: Yes. Until December 31, 2020, the Wage and Hour Division will consider telemedicine visits to be in-person visits, and will consider electronic signatures to be signatures, for purposes of establishing a serious health condition under the FMLA. To be considered an in-person visit, the telemedicine visit must include an examination, evaluation, or treatment by a health care provider; be performed by video conference; and be permitted and accepted by state licensing authorities. This approach serves the public's interest because health care facilities and clinicians around the nation are under advisories to prioritize urgent and emergency visits and procedures and to preserve staff personal protective equipment and patient-care supplies.

Q: Is the Colorado State Employees Assistance Program (CSEAP) providing any services relating to COVID-19?

A: Taking care of yourself during times of stress and uncertainty is extremely important. In addition to CSEAP services, these resources have been collected for State of Colorado employees to help you maintain your own wellness during an infectious disease outbreak.

CSEAP will be providing recurring webinars on Managing Stress and Anxiety During Uncertain Times. Participants are limited to 100 so will be providing this training on a weekly basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this webinar acknowledges the uncertainty of our current pandemic, this presentation does NOT provide an educational focus on COVID-19 or workplace response to COVID-19. Visit the CSEAP website for the most recent information on CSEAP's available webinar trainings. Of course, CSEAP will also continue to offer one-on-one counseling and referral services, and leveraging virtual counseling where appropriate to ensure the safety of clients and counselors. Please contact 303-866-4314 or Toll Free 800-821-8154 to make an appointment. Office hours are Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.  After hours contact is Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or coloradocrisisservices.org.

Q: COVID-19 is constantly on our minds. What resources can you provide to help make sure employees are taking care of themselves?

A: Taking care of yourself during times of stress and uncertainty is extremely important. In addition to CSEAP services, these resources have been collected for State of Colorado employees to help you maintain your own wellness during an infectious disease outbreak.

Q: What if an employee is directed to work at a facility with known COVID-19 but has high risk factors according to the CDC (people with certain chronic medical conditions)?

A: The employee should discuss their situation with their agency's FML/ADA Coordinator to determine the level of risk and what options may be available for accommodation or leave.

Q: If an employee is directed to work at a facility with known cases of COVID-19, will the State grant hazard pay?

A: An agency is permitted to grant hazard pay based on criteria established in State Personnel Rule 3-50, based on appropriate and communicated criteria. Agencies should consider if the employee has "exposure to physical hazards that are not a customary part or expectation of the occupation." However, hazard pay is currently limited to $1 per hour. Consequently, agencies are encouraged to use incentive pay or discretionary shift differentials. Both should be granted in a manner consistent with the agency's incentive and/or compensation plan, which can be amended as necessary.

Q: If an employee works at a facility with known COVID-19, what costs will the State reimburse?

A: For employees who work directly with people known or suspected to have COVID-19, the agency should consider reimbursement of extraordinary employee costs. Examples of this may include hotel stays and food purchases as the result of the situation where they cannot return home. The State Controller will be issuing guidance to accounting staff on how to manage COVID-19 related expense reimbursements. Employees should continue to request reimbursement through their usual process within their agency.

Q: Will there be costs involved relating to testing that employees must cover?

A: The Division of Insurance is requiring insurance companies to take actions related to COVID-19 in the areas of telehealth, prescription refills and cost shares (co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance). Kaiser and UnitedHealthcare will cover the costs for COVID-19 tests, which must be ordered by a doctor. This means testing will be given without deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance requirements.

Q: What if there is wide-spread COVID-19 in one of our facilities?

A: Proactively protect the workforce by requiring the use of protective personal equipment to reduce the spread of the disease, referring to the CDC's guidance for healthcare facilities. Additionally, screen patients, visitors, and employees entering the facility to prevent introduction of infected individuals. Continuously monitor your hygiene practices to ensure healthy employees keep from becoming infected. If your staff becomes ill with COVID-19, they should be sent home and granted paid administrative leave as soon as possible to prevent spread.

To ensure continuity of operations, there are options to consider. While these are options that may require specific agency and possibly work-unit input to address, and each scenario will be unique in terms of need, regulation, and regulatory authority, some options to consider in no particular order, are as follows:

  1. Allow the employee to work from home if possible.
  2. Request employees to change shifts to cover employee's assigned shift.
  3. Request employees to work extra shifts.
  4. Mandate employees work extra shifts.
  5. Reassign employees in higher staffed locations to locations in need of additional staffing.
  6. Collaborate with CDHS/DOC and share staff through an MOU.
  7. Reach out to and reinstate retired employees.
  8. Use of overtime.
  9. Use of incentive pay.
  10. Use of discretionary pay differentials.

See the guidance above regarding reimbursable costs to provide further incentive. In addition, you should begin cross-training initiatives as soon as possible to ensure employees can fill in as necessary.

Agencies should consider the use of temporary employees. Note that temporary employees are not currently eligible for sick or paid administrative leave. The Governor may issue an executive order allowing temporary employees to receive sick or paid administrative leave as it relates to COVID-19 situations.

Q: Will the increase to 10.5% deduction from the current 8.75% still take place on July 1 or will that be delayed due to COVID-19?

A: Yes, as the rates are set by statute, the increase to contributions will still occur on July 1, 2020.

Q: What options are there to state employees to tap into retirement funds during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: As has been the case previously, members cannot access their funds in either the PERA Defined Benefit (DB) retirement plan or the PERA Defined Contribution (DC) retirement plan, unless they terminate PERA-covered employment and either take a lump-sum refund or a monthly retirement benefit. However, the CARES Act has provided some additional access to retirement funds into participants in either the PERAPlus 401(k) or 457 plan:

Coronavirus-related Distribution Without a Tax Penalty – PERAPlus 401(k)/457 Plans Members can take up to $100,000 as a "coronavirus-related distribution" between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. Members may spread taxes on the distribution over a three-year period. Also, there is no additional tax penalty for this early distribution. (Currently, members in the PERAPlus 401(k) Plan are subject to a 10% penalty for any distribution prior to age 59½.)

Coronavirus-related distributions are broadly defined as distributions to an individual who:

  • Is diagnosed with COVID-19; or
  • Has a spouse/dependent who is diagnosed with COVID-19; or
  • Experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, or being unable to work due to lack of childcare.

Expanded Loans – PERAPlus 401(k)/457 Plans

For the 180-day period beginning on the date the CARES Act is enacted, PERAPlus participants who are affected by COVID-19 (see the 3 situations above) can take up to $100,000 as a loan (instead of the current $50,000 maximum) and the loan amount can be up to the full account balance (rather than half the account balance as it currently exists).

Repayment of these expanded loans, as well as existing loans, is also delayed for one year for those participants affected by COVID-19. Voya, PERA's recordkeeper for the 401(k) and 457 plans, is working to implement these new provisions related to COVID-19.

"All Vulnerable Individuals should Stay at Home, except when necessary to provide, support, perform, or operate Necessary Activities, Minimum Basic Operations, Critical Government Functions, Necessary Travel, or Critical Businesses, provided that Vulnerable Individuals cannot be compelled to perform in-person work for any business or government function, including a Critical Business or Critical Government Function."

Please see the Safer at Home - Governor's Executive Order and the FAQ Safer at Home for more information.

Q. Can vulnerable employees refuse to return to work?

A: Based on the Safer at Home Executive Order, all Vulnerable Individuals should Stay at Home, except when necessary to provide, support, perform, or operate Necessary Activities, Minimum Basic Operations, Critical Government Functions, Necessary Travel, or Critical Businesses, provided that Vulnerable Individuals cannot be compelled to perform in-person work for any business or government function, including a Critical Business or Critical Government Function.

Q: Do the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act apply to applicants or employees who are classified as "critical infrastructure workers" or "essential critical workers" by the CDC?

A: Yes. These CDC designations, or any other designations of certain employees, do not eliminate coverage under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act, or any other equal employment opportunity law. Therefore, employers receiving requests for reasonable accommodation under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act from employees falling in these categories of jobs must accept and process the requests as they would for any other employee. Whether the request is granted will depend on whether the worker is an individual with a disability, and whether there is a reasonable accommodation that can be provided absent undue hardship.

Q: If a vulnerable employee refuses to return to work, will they get paid administrative leave?

A: Provided they cannot work from home, vulnerable employees should be provided 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) if they have not already utilized this time. Thereafter, they may use any accrued time if they will not return to the workplace. The Stay at Home order is specific that vulnerable individuals may not be compelled to return to the workplace.

Q: What if my department is requiring me to return to work, but I don't feel safe?

A: If you are suffering from medical issues, EPSL may apply and it is possible that your medical condition may constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. If you are disabled, then you have the right to ask for a reasonable accommodation. In those circumstances, one reasonable accommodation might be to work from home. Also, if you are pregnant and have an underlying condition, you might be entitled to an accommodation under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

If you refuse to return to work and quit due to unsatisfactory or hazardous working conditions, you may be eligible for unemployment to the degree of risk involved to your health.

Q: An employer requires returning workers to wear personal protective gear and engage in infection control practices. Some employees ask for accommodations due to a need for modified protective gear. Must an employer grant these requests?

A: An employer may require employees to wear protective gear (for example, masks and gloves) and observe infection control practices (for example, regular hand washing and social distancing protocols).

However, where an employee with a disability needs a related reasonable accommodation under the ADA (e.g., non-latex gloves, modified face masks for interpreters or others who communicate with an employee who uses lip reading, or gowns designed for individuals who use wheelchairs), or a religious accommodation under Title VII (such as modified equipment due to religious garb), the employer should discuss the request and provide the modification or an alternative if feasible and not an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business under the ADA or Title VII.

Q: Is my agency going to provide masks or other PPE?

A: Due to the varied nature of the services that agencies provide, there is no one answer regarding the use of PPE, as it will vary depending on work performed and contact with the public. However, the Safer-at-Home order encourages the use of cloth masks when leaving the home, and those masks should be sufficient for the majority of positions in an office environment.

It is important to remember to wear the right face covering for the right job. Most of us can wear non-medical face coverings and leave the supply of N95 medical masks for healthcare workers. We are pursuing every effort to obtain face coverings for state employees. While we catch up on building an inventory of non-medical face coverings, we are encouraging all employees to make their own and be creative.

For resources and information on how to make a homemade face covering, please visit the Colorado Mask Project. The CDC also has guidance on how masks should be worn and maintained. Optimally, masks should fit snugly and securely against the side of the face in a way that allows for easy breathing. Cloth face coverings should contain multiple layers of cloth and must be cleaned regularly.

Q: What are some legal considerations departments should be mindful of when requesting employees to return to work under the safer at home order?

A: Avoid discrimination. For example, not bringing back older or pregnant workers because they are older or pregnant is discrimination, even though the motivation may be to protect those workers. Instead, departments should stick to an objective approach for determining which employees should return to the office based on business needs (e.g because they are unable to fully work from home) and if a worker objects to returning to work, reach out to those workers to find out if there is a reason they cannot or will not return.

Importantly, departments should never bar vulnerable workers from the workplace just because they meet the CDC criteria. The Age in Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII prohibit discriminatory treatment based on age, disability, or gender (including pregnancy).

Employees may be afraid to come back to work. Be cautious and deliberate in bringing back employees to the workplace slowly and safely. Employees with COVID-19 concerns at home may have legal protections under the FFCRA, FMLA, or the ADA.

Q: Are there any resources available to assist Coloradans during the Safer-at-Home order?

A: While many businesses and activities are now able to open with safety precautions in place, it is recommended that you stay home as much as possible in order to keep the transmission of this virus low in our communities (see the Six-level Dial and Dashboard). If you are over 65 or have high risks, you should avoid going out except for essential needs. We know that this can be challenging, so we hope that the resources provided by CDPHE on Wellness, Education, and Entertainment will be helpful. These pages will be regularly updated. Anyone can submit suggestions of free resources that are helping Coloradans stay at home. State employees can also utilize the Colorado State Employees Assistance Program (CSEAP) for various resources to help during this difficult time. 

Q: My child's school is closed as a result of COVID-19. Can I work from home?

A: Continuity of operations must be the first consideration when allowing employees to work from home, and employees should work directly with their supervisors to balance business needs with employee safety and needs. Agencies are encouraged to permit employees with impacted children or other dependents to work from home if possible, while still meeting business needs. Further, agencies are encouraged to amend their alternative/flex work policies to allow employees to work from home while caring for a dependent during a state of emergency. For employees who cannot work from home, employees should work with their supervisors to identify alternative schedules that may be available and if necessary, an employee may use leave to stay at home with impacted children or dependents.

Q: What resources are available to employees who must report to work and their childcare care provider is not available or daycare is closed?

A: The Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative has established an emergency childcare system for essential and emergency workers. Employees can apply to be provided with care. They will notify families of potential care providers that meet their needs and provide directions on how best to reach out to the provider to arrange enrollment. 2-1-1 Colorado can also help interested families.

Care through the Collaborative is provided by licensed child care providers across Colorado. It is important for families to note that the supply of care is limited, and if they can utilize other care, or are able to work from home, they should do so. Emergency child care provided through the Collaborative is for when all other care settings have been exhausted and families have no other options.

Families who need help in identifying child care and aren't in need of financial assistance can also reach out to Colorado Shines Child Care Referral for assistance, through any of the below methods:

Q: What actions are being considered to help parents who are caring for children out of school while also working from home?

A: Employees are encouraged to work with their supervisor to discuss flexible scheduling or modifications to their schedule to balance the needs of their work with that of caring for their children during the day. In addition, here are some best practices from the Colorado Department of Education for working parents that will assist with keeping children on task with at-home schoolwork.

Other Closures

Q: What if the building I work in (not a state building) closes?

A: Employees should work with their supervisors to determine how best to continue to support their operations. Options can include, but are not limited to, working from home, being reassigned to a different location, being reassigned to the central office, and/or begin reassigned different job duties. 

Q: If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, should we close the building, the floor, or the department?

A: This question is best answered by CDPHE, who should be contacted through CDPHE's PIO. You should immediately inform your executive leadership, who will take the lead in both discussions with CDPHE and also communication about any closures. Also, ensure the employee is quarantined at home, and inform the landlord, if applicable.

Q: Are temperature checks required for employees returning to work?

A: Yes, agencies can conduct daily temperature checks at the worksite and require a safe result for access to state buildings, or if not practicable, require employees through self-assessment at home prior to reporting to the worksite.

Q: Should an employee that has a temperature be allowed to come to work or sent home?

A: If the employee's temperature is 100.4° F or higher, the employee should not come in to work or if at work, should be sent home.

Q: What is considered an acceptable temperature to come in to work?

A: A temperature less than 99.2° F is considered acceptable. When at work, an employee with a temperature of 99.2° F or higher but less than 100.4° F, should begin monitoring their temperature twice a day for a minimum of 7 days to determine if the temperature is going up or down. The employee should keep their supervisor apprised of their situation.

Q: Should an employee be given some sort of certification that they have passed the temperature check screening at the work site?

A: Certification is not required. If an agency chooses to provide certification, one way to identify those that have passed the screening is to provide a wristband that has a corresponding color of passing or stickers that attest to the date of screening.

Q: Is temperature check documentation considered medical information?

A: Yes. EEOC and State guidance provides that all information about employee illness must be treated as a confidential medical record separate and apart from the employee's personnel file. These records must be retained for six years.

Q: Where do I find out more information about health screenings for employees returning to work?

A: CDPHE has more information at covid19.colorado.gov/symptom-screening.

Q: Where can state employees learn more about the vaccine, the distribution plan, vaccine safety, etc.?

A: The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) website at covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine provides information and resources about the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes up to date information about the status of the vaccine and the Vaccine phases. Coloradans can also call 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926) for more information.
 
Frequently asked questions are available at covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-faq and address the following topics:

Coloradans may also receive updates from the Office of Governor Jared Polis on Colorado's COVID-19 response and state initiatives by signing up for his newsletter here

Q: When is vaccination information going to be shared with state employees?

A: State employees should continue to refer to covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine and covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-faq provided by CDPHE for the most current information on the COVID-19 vaccine. The State will continue to communicate via email with any important vaccine updates specific to all state employees.

Q: What is the vaccination plan and distribution timeframe of the vaccine for state employees?

A: The initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine(s) is expected to be very limited for several months. This means that a vaccine will not be immediately available to everyone who wants one. The vaccine will be distributed in phases, which are designed to save as many lives as possible.

The best place for up-to-date information on the vaccine roll-out plan for Colorado is on CDPHE's vaccine information page. In terms of the plan for state employees, aside from age and/or health conditions, some state employees will fall in early phases based on their position and job duties. The vaccine distribution flowchart guides Coloradans in determining when they can expect to be offered and receive the vaccine.

Employees should take the opportunity to receive the vaccine as soon it is offered to them based on their job, age, or medical condition. This may include responding to outreach from health care providers, attending a community based clinic, etc. 
Each agency has determined if they have employees who fall into these early phases, based on their position and job duties in relation to their Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for vaccination purposes. The Governor's Office and CDPHE is focusing on finding additional vaccination options for these employees. Plans will be shared as information becomes available. Your agency will communicate directly with you regarding the prioritization group and phase you fall in based on your job duties. 

Family members of state employees will fall into the phases based on their own job duties and/or personal situations.

Q: If a state employee is offered a vaccine by a local health authority or healthcare provider before the employee is able to get the vaccine through the State as their employer, should the employee take the vaccine? 

A: Yes, state employees are encouraged to take the vaccine when it is offered to them.

Q: If an employee is not at high risk or an essential worker, how soon can they get vaccinated?

A: Based on the vaccination distribution plan, the vaccine will first be available to the general public this summer.

Q: As an employer, can the State mandate state employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes, however, the State is not currently pursuing any mandates at this time. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has more information regarding this on the EEOC website. All employees are encouraged to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

Q: What should an employee do if they receive the vaccine and exhibit side effects or symptoms?

A: An employee should notify their supervisor and be allowed to take the new Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) until their symptoms subside which generally should be no more than 48 hours. PHEL is limited to up to 80 hours (prorated for part-time).

If an employee develops COVID-19 symptoms more than one to two weeks after being fully vaccinated, they should isolate and contact their healthcare provider for instructions on whether to be tested for COVID-19 or other infections.

Q: If an employee gets sick from the COVID vaccination, will they qualify for the Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)?

A: Employees who receive the vaccine may experience COVID-like symptoms and could qualify for PHEL. Reasons for PHEL can be found here. Agencies are encouraged to utilize PHEL, as appropriate, to maintain the health and safety of employees and worksites. Employee’s should work with their agency’s HR office regarding the use of PHEL.

Employees who receive the vaccination by the agency or third-party administrator the State has contracted with to administer the vaccination and experience COVID-like symptoms may be eligible for worker’s compensation.

Q: Will employees have a choice between Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

A: It may be unlikely that employees will have the choice between vaccines because, particularly in the beginning of the distribution plan, there will not be enough vaccines and employees are encouraged to take whichever vaccine is available. 

The FDA authorized both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. To learn more, see FAQs about COVID-19 vaccine(s) developed by CDPHE. Other companies are still going through the process. CDC provides detailed profiles for each available vaccine on their Different COVID-19 Vaccines page.

It is important to note that the second dose of the vaccine must be made by the same manufacturer as the first. This means that if an employee receives a Pfizer vaccination the follow up vaccination must also be Pfizer and if an employee receives a Modera vaccination the follow up vaccination must also be Moderna.

Q: Should employees who have had COVID get vaccinated?

A: Information pertaining to this question is located under the topic Getting the COVID-19 vaccine of FAQs provided by CDPHE which provides the following information:

  • Data from Pfizer’s clinical trials suggest that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are likely safe and effective in people who have recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection.
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends waiting at least 90 days after recovering from COVID-19 before getting the vaccine.
  • It is currently unknown how long natural immunity lasts after recovering from COVID-19. 
  • Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, and cases of reinfection have been reported. 
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations on how to best use COVID-19 vaccines, and the FDA authorizes use. We will allow for all permissible uses once they are authorized.

Q:If an employee refuses a vaccine, must the supervisor continue to allow the employee to take leave for potential exposures?

A: Given that the vaccine is not mandated, supervisors should continue to work with employees to determine how best to continue to support their operations. Options can include, but are not limited to, working from home, being reassigned to a different location, being reassigned to the central office, and/or being reassigned different job duties. All employees must continue to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands - even after they have received the vaccine.

Q: If a high-risk employee refuses a vaccine, must the supervisor continue accommodating that employee for COVID by allowing them to work from home?

A: The State is strongly encouraging employees to be vaccinated when it’s available to them.  However, because the State is not mandating the COVID vaccination at this time, remote work and other reasonable accommodations should remain in place until everyone has had the opportunity to take the vaccine. 

Q: When will employees enrolled in the State’s health plans be offered the COVID vaccination? 

A:  Administering the vaccine is a joint effort between public and private providers and partners, CDPHE, and the State.

In collaboration with CDPHE and local public health agencies, providers are enrolled in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program based on the critical populations they serve and where they fit within Colorado’s vaccine prioritization list. For additional information about the providers and where they are located view the list of facilities that have received shipments of COVID-19 vaccines.

As the vaccine becomes more widely available, the network of COVID-19 vaccine providers will expand to include doctors’ offices, pharmacies, homeless shelters, colleges/universities, senior centers, school-based health centers, and other health and medical locations. 

Kaiser Permanente (KP) is a vaccine provider and has started to vaccinate Coloradans. The distribution is based on CDPHE’s phased rollout plan. KP members and non-KP members are both eligible to be vaccinated based on their position, age, or medical condition. This is not a benefit specific to state employees as any Coloradan may register.

Please visit this site for more information and to register for a place in line to receive a vaccine. Individuals can sign-up to be added to a waitlist. When it’s their turn, they will be asked to call in and make an appointment. KP will refer individuals to the first available in the area that has vaccines available. Individuals can then ask them to look closer to home if it’s too far. Remember this is not KP directed as it is coordinated by CDPHE and the State. The State delivers the vaccines to each location when they are available and KP dispenses them to anyone who has signed up. 

This is an evolving situation and as details emerge, the State will partner with Cigna, Paladina, OptumRx, and Kaiser to communicate additional options for vaccinating employees and their families as they become available.

Q: Will employees have to pay for the vaccine?

A: The vaccine will be free to Coloradans so that cost will not be an obstacle to getting the vaccine. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance are required to cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccines - and there will be no co-pay or office visit charge. In addition, uninsured Coloradans will have access to free vaccines.

More importantly, a vaccine provider may not turn people away for the vaccine because of an inability to pay or their medical coverage status.

For general questions around the side effects and safety of the vaccines, please see FAQs about Vaccine safety and development developed by CDPHE.

Q: Will state employees be able to return to their offices/work locations after they receive the vaccine?

A: It is too soon to tell. At this time, these decisions will be up to the discretion of the leadership of each agency. That said, there may be guidance from the Governor’s Office and/or CDPHE based on federal guidance and dial status. 

Q: What percentage of the state's workforce will need to be vaccinated before returning to the office? Is there any update on work-from-home options after the pandemic is over?

A: This will be agency specific.

 

Q: Does Workers' Compensation cover an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

A: Possibly. An employee who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to prove that the contagious disease resulted from the work environment to have a compensable workers' compensation claim. The employee could demonstrate this if they proved that they contracted the disease at a particular point in time. If the employee is unable to pinpoint the specific moment or instance of transmittal, the employee might still be able to demonstrate a compensable contagious disease if the employee was at a much higher risk of infection than the general population due to being at work- such as an outbreak at a particular work facility or location.

We still do not know much about how and where COVID-19 is transmitted. As the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise, it is increasingly difficult to determine if an employee contracted COVID-19 while working. For this reason, as time goes on, it may become even more difficult to prove a COVID-19 exposure occurred while working.

Q: What should the employer do if an employee has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and the employee's supervisor has reason to believe that the employee may have acquired the illness through exposure at work?

A: While determining whether an employee's contraction of COVID-19 is work-related can be difficult, it is important to follow our normal protocols for when an employee reports an alleged workers' compensation claim or occupational disease including:

  • Complete IOJ or incident investigation and paperwork.
  • Provide the employee with a Designated Provider List.
  • Report the claim to Broadspire immediately.
  • Broadspire will report the claim to the Division within 10 days as required by law.
  • If the employee missed work for more than 3 days or sustained permanent impairment, Broadspire must file a First Report of Injury with the Division and either admit or deny the workers' compensation claim.

IMPORTANT: Agencies must report employee COVID-19 claims to Risk Management and Broadspire if the employee, agency, or a supervisor knows or has reason to believe the employee contracted COVID-19 from work or could be fined by the Division of Workers' Compensation up to $1,000 per day.

For example, if the employee tells a supervisor he believes he contracted the disease while working or there is a known outbreak at a particular employer location, that potential workers' compensation claim must be reported to State Risk Management and Broadspire within four days. The laws that require the State, through its third-party administrator, to report claims to the Division are meant to ensure employees are being informed of their rights and the Division of Workers' Compensation can properly supervise the enforcement of workplace health and safety laws.

An agency's failure to report these potential workers' compensation claims can result in stiff penalties being assessed against the State up to $1,000 per day. In most circumstances, the State Office of Risk Management will require Agencies to pay the penalties directly, instead of by the pool, including situations where an agency intentionally failed to report known or suspected work-related COVID claims to Risk Management or Broadspire.

Q: What if an employee who tests positive for COVID doesn't want to pursue a workers' compensation claim?

A: Some employees may not be interested in pursuing a claim for workers' compensation for a potentially work-related contraction of COVID-19 for a variety of reasons. They may have been made whole by other benefits, including Emergency Sick Leave under federal law or administrative leave. They may want to avoid the additional paperwork and administrative burdens that come with filing a claim. They may believe they contracted COVID outside of work. However, agencies are still under a legal obligation to report any employee with COVID-19 who the employer knows or believes contracted COVID at work and provide the designated provider list to the employee. In the event there are three days or more of lost time (off work) or permanent impairment, Broadspire is required to file a General Admission of Liability or a Notice of Contest.

In determining whether to file an Admission or a Notice of Contest, Broadspire will assist in gathering facts and speaking with the employee. If an employee reports that they do not want to pursue a workers' compensation claim, a Notice of Contest may be filed based on their written statement that they do not want to pursue the claim. No further action will be necessary on the employee's part.

Q: If COVID-19 is detected at a State facility or building, how will workers' compensation handle this? 

A: Based on guidance from our vendor, Broadspire, it would depend on whether a causal relationship can be established. The exposure has to be determined to be something that is unique to employment; the investigation would have to determine that the virus was transmitted via contact while at work or performing essential functions of the job. For certain classes of workers, the answer is clearer. If the employee is a worker in the medical field or a first responder who was exposed at work, then yes, it would be compensable through worker's compensation. If the employee was on business travel to areas with widespread community transmission, this would likely be compensable as well. All claims of contracting the virus at work would need to be proven through an investigation. Employees who contract COVID-19 at work will be placed on EPSL until a determination is made if it is covered by workers' compensation. If it is covered by workers' compensation, an employee would transition to injury leave coverage under workers' compensation.

Q: Are our workers' compensation partners accepting employees for COVID-19 testing?

A: Our workers' compensation partners are following the CDC guidelines that state if an employee feels they are showing signs and symptoms and meet the criteria for testing, to contact their primary care physician for the closest facility to test them for the virus. Employees are encouraged to stay home if they feel they are showing any signs or symptoms before they are cleared by a medical provider.

Q: Are employees working from home covered by workers' compensation?

A: Yes. Employees working from home are covered under workers' compensation for injuries arising out of the course and scope of employment. Coverage applies to the same extent it would if an employee were injured in the office. While the circumstances of each employee's home environment may differ from the office, we cannot tell an employee not to file a claim related to an injury sustained while working from home. If an employee notifies their employer that they want to file a claim, we will handle that situation as we would any other work-related claim. Please Note: The State of Colorado assumes no liability for injuries occurring at the work from home location outside of the employee's work hours or injuries that do not arise out of employment. The State of Colorado is not responsible for injuries to third parties, including family members, at the work from home location, or for damages to the employee's personal property.

Q: What are employees' responsibilities for reporting incident or injury occurring at home?

A: By law, the employee must report a work-related injury or illness in writing to the employer within 96 hours (4 calendar days) even if the employer has actual knowledge of the injury or illness. Broadspire will adjust the claim and investigate the injury or illness for compensability. If the claim is found not compensable, all medical costs will be the responsibility of the employee or the employee's primary insurance carrier.

Q: What is the timeline for employers to report a workers' compensation claim?

A: All agencies and institutes of higher education covered through the State Office of Risk Management's (SORM) self-insured program are required to report the injury to Broadspire within 24 hours from the date of notification that the accident or incident occurred. If the employee does not want to complete a first report of injury or does not comply with providing a written statement, this does not alleviate the employer or supervisor's responsibility under the 24-hour reporting requirement.

Q: What other responsibilities do employers and supervisors have?

A: The employer must provide the injured employee with an up-to-date designated provider list, along with the first report of injury (FROI) form to properly document the injury. For an up-to-date designated provider list, visit www.goperspecta.com/VPD/broadspire/public/ProviderSearch/Main

Q: Are there special claims considerations for working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak?

A: With the current recommendations for social distancing, SORM encourages employees who file a workers' compensation claim to use telemedicine as an avenue to be evaluated by a treating physician. Telemedicine is a convenient way for both patients and care providers to treat and diagnose minor work related injuries such as sprains and strains; repetitive motion injuries; minor functional movement injuries; cuts, scrapes, bruises; etc.  Our workers' compensation providers, Concentra and HealthOne currently offer telemedicine resources.

Q: What are some steps employees can take to minimize risk and improve safety while working at home?

A: SORM strongly encourages employees working from home to do the best they can to create an adequate and ergonomically correct workspace. An adequate work space is one that enables the employee to fully perform the requirements of the job. This includes, but is not limited to, physical dimensions; quiet and distraction-free space; proper furniture; equipment such as computer, monitor; internet capability; phone; and privacy. Due to the State of Colorado and CDC guidelines, no in-person ergonomic evaluations will be performed by SORM or Broadspire staff. Please visit the SORM web page to take an online ergonomic assessment. Additionally, employees should review the Flexplace Safety Checklist to assess the suitability and safety of the workspace.

Q: Can employees take EPSL or EPHL if they are receiving non-COVID-19 related workers' compensation or temporary disability benefits through an employer or state-provided plan?

A: In general, no, unless the employee was able to return to light duty before needing to take leave related to COVID-19. If they receive workers' compensation or temporary disability benefits not related to COVID-19 and because they are unable to work, EPSL or EPHL may not be taken. However, if the employee is able to return to light duty and a qualifying reason prevents them from working, EPSL or EPHL may be taken, as the situation warrants.

Q: What measures should an agency take to have 50% of employees work from home?

A: Governor Polis directed all state agencies to implement work from home for 50% of employees where viable. Agencies have developed plans to implement this and have identified those employees who should work from home. This does not mean that all employees able to work from home are allowed to do so. Agencies may have staffing level requirements and the ability to use alternative shifts and social distancing to continue necessary operations. For employees who must continue to report to work, please utilize CDC's guidance on how to keep the workforce safe.

Q: What is the guidance for state agencies on utilizing telework and working from home? Is that developed on an agency basis?

A: As a temporary measure and as appropriate based on the current circumstances related to COVID-19, state agencies should begin developing a plan for work from home whenever practical to maintain business operations and continuity of service. This may require modifications to standard duties or exceptions to typical telework practices. Additionally, agencies are advised to modify (at least temporarily) their telework policies to allow employees to work remotely at the same time they are caring for a child or other dependent during state-recognized emergency situations.

Q: What are best practices for working at home?

A: Governing, an online magazine for state and local governments, provides a top ten list. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment prepared a comprehensive guide on best practices.

Q: Will the departments be increasing the capabilities of staff members to work from home, especially those without laptops?

A: All departments are currently working with OIT to procure additional laptops and VPN to enable more staff to work from home. OIT secured an additional 1,800 laptops that are currently being deployed to the agencies based on highest need.

Q: What should agencies be considering from a technology perspective to allow employees to work from home?

A: Agencies have assessed the need for remote access to important state systems, and if equipment will be needed for employees to work from home (e.g., laptops and internet connection). The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has convened a task force to support agencies in this effort, and their Tech Kit for Remote Workers provides guidance on how to make working from home successful. Employees should review the guidance along with the Remote Cybersecurity Tips to ensure state and personal information is secure. This guidance and additional resources can also be found on the State's TechU website. Please note, this guidance is a working document and may change as situations evolve. Please contact your IT Director if you have questions. 

Q:  If an employee does not have an internet connection and wants to work from home, will the State pay for this service?

A:  If the employee is asking to work from home — and not being directed — they should supply everything needed to do so, including internet service. If they have a hot spot on their phone, they could choose to use that instead. Agencies can decide to supply other equipment (e.g., laptop, printer) for employees choosing to work from home.

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Procurement and Contract Management Questions

Q. How can my commercial card limit be adjusted?

A. Agencies/IHEs can adjust limits of commercial cards as needed and appropriate. An agency/IHE chief fiscal officer (the top financial position in the State agency or Institution of Higher Education) can give approval to increase commercial card limits over $5,000. This approval does not waive the encumbrance requirement unless this is tied to a specific emergency purchase approved by the procurement official.

Q. My agency is not set up for electronic signatures. What alternatives do I have for expediting the signing of contracts?

A. OIT has offered to assist with contract signing for those agencies not yet using eSignature. Contact Noah Kaplan at OIT noah.kaplan@state.co.us for information on getting help with urgent or high priority contracts.

Q. Can our agency use fax signatures for contract approval?

A. Yes, fax signatures are acceptable for contract approval. Hard copies of the signatures should be sent subsequently to the agency/IHE. Also, agencies and vendors/grantees can use counterpart signatures which means parties can sign separately; they all do not need to sign the same signature page.

Q. Can an agency use an electronic signature from a vendor not approved by OIT, such as Adobe?

A. Adobe digital signatures do not meet OIT's security standards. OIT Procurement has offered to route other agencies' contracts through DocuSign. Contact Noah Kaplan noah.kaplan@state.co.us. Agencies can also use fax and counterpart signatures.

Q. Does the State have a force majeure or acts of God clauses in its contract templates so that vendor performance could be excused during this pandemic?

A. The State does not have such clauses in its templates because of the need for vendors to continue to provide services during an emergency such as this pandemic.

Q. What are the guidelines for design and construction contracts?

A. The Office of the State Architect (OSA) has issued "Modification to Basic Steps During Social Distancing." Please see OSA's website under "State Buildings" and "Project Management Policies/Guidelines."

Q. An agency has a fixed price contract for services, such as armored car service. With the reduction in activity at the agency, should the department reduce its payment to the vendor for these services?

A. In accordance with the Governor's direction during the disaster declaration, an agency should continue to pay the amount in the fixed price contract.

Q. What flexibility does a State agency have with its vendors and grantees in meeting deliverables?

A. Agencies can provide vendors and grantees with some flexibility by not fully enforcing the terms of the contract without waiving any of the State's remedies as provided by the waiver section of the general terms and conditions. Agencies could extend deadlines and waive certain obligations at the discretion of the agency.

Q. What if a contractor does not meet milestones and still wants to be paid?

A. The State cannot pay for milestones that were not delivered by the contractor. The agency can pay a fair amount for the work performed.

Q. What if the contractor cannot meet future milestones because of the pandemic?

A. The agency should amend the contract to provide for a milestone delivery schedule that is consistent with current conditions.

Q. What if an agency is not able to meet its performance obligations due to staff being pulled from normal work to assist with this emergency?

A. In this case, the agency should amend the contract. The agency should decide how to proceed on a case-by-case basis, with alternatives of extending the contract with the same deliverables, modifying the deliverables, or stopping work and cancelling the contract.

Q. How does an agency handle a situation where a vendor or grantee is experiencing cash flow shortages?

A. In this case, the agency should prepare an evaluation of the benefits and risks of making an advance payment including non-performance. If the agency concludes that the benefits outweigh the risks, then the agency should request an advance payment waiver from the OSC. Contact Nate Weatherford at CCU nathan.weatherford@state.co.us.

Q: Does the State have guidance available for terminating or reducing POs/contracts due to lack of funds?

A: Yes, see Contract Termination Due to Lack of Funds.

Q. What are the executive orders issued during the disaster emergency and which ones apply to procurement?

A. The Governor's Executive Order, D 2020 032, authorizes the temporary suspension of the following statutory requirements related to the State's procurement of goods and services that are reasonably necessary to save lives, mitigate the effects of the pandemic, prevent further spread of COVID-19, and protect against overwhelming our health care system. For more information, view the full Executive Order here.

State Agencies

Q. Is there guidance for State Agencies regarding personnel cost tracking on projects related to COVID-19?

A. Yes. Please see the PDF: Revised Guidance for State Agencies on Personnel Cost Tracking - COVID-19.

Q. What is the process for departments to submit COVID-19 costs for reimbursement?

A. This depends on whether the department received Disaster Emergency Fund allocations based on Executive Order for COVID-19 or not.

  1. Expenditures Under Governor's Executive Order:

    Departments receiving specific Disaster Emergency Fund allocations based on the Executive Order for COVID-19 are CDPHE, DOLA, CDLE, and DPA. For all other State agencies, skip to #2 below.

    Sub-recipient activity for these departments will be recorded in the Disaster Emergency Fund, Fund 2600. Departments need to identify a primary point of contact (POC) for this activity and communicate that to the CDPS Controller (dean.mcdaniel@state.co.us). These departments will work with DHSEM in the manner identified in the distributed one-pager for sub-recipient departments, unless otherwise directed through exchange with CDPS leadership.

  2. Expenditures Outside Governor's Executive Order:

    Other state departments incurring COVID-related expenditures will record those expenditures in their own operating budgets, using their department coding strings, and ensuring unique identification of the costs as COVID-19 response. Full supporting documentation is required for all expenditures and must be thorough with detailed explanations of the work performed and why it was necessary. DHSEM recommends recording expenditures using the COVID-19 expenditure reporting template (provided as an Excel spreadsheet). Please also refer to the document, "Public Assistance Supporting Documentation Required" for a summary of documentation requirements by expense type.

    The department may submit weekly expenditures with supporting documentation to DHSEM for review to determine if the expenditures would meet FEMA eligibility requirements for reimbursement. Send weekly submissions to DHSEM via email at: cdps_seocfinance@state.co.us. Submissions may later be expanded to monthly if the spending patterns make this feasible.

    Based upon DHSEM review and availability of FEMA funds, the department may be able to enter into an interagency agreement (IAA) with DHSEM for submission of these costs to FEMA through a grant-style arrangement. Any expenditures submitted for FEMA reimbursement in this IAA scenario will be managed in the State's EMGrants Pro system (CO.EMGrants.com). EMGrants is the State's official system for managing Public Assistance grants and providing reimbursement to sub-recipients. Instruction and training on the use and functionality of CO.EMGrants.com will be provided to agencies as needed. This scenario continues to evolve and is subject to change.

    The guidance provided in this document is in addition to the official Federal guidelines for FEMA Public Assistance reimbursement. For more information on this grant program, refer to the FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG) and FEMA's website: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus.

    See:

Q. What is the process to send weekly expenditures to DHSEM?

A. In accordance with guidance included in this Q&A, if you believe your agency has incurred costs that may be eligible for FEMA Public Assistance, please submit weekly expenditures with supporting documentation to cdps_seocfinance@state.co.us.

Lauren Leavitt lauren.leavitt@state.co.us will be reviewing these weekly submissions to determine if they meet FEMA Public Assistance eligibility requirements, and to provide feedback on additional documentation that will be required for reimbursement. It's important that agencies identify Public Assistance-eligible expenses as soon as possible so DHSEM can discuss FEMA's documentation requirements. Lauren Leavitt may raise many questions during her reviews and some expenses will not be Public Assistance-eligible. The State's goal is to maximize FEMA reimbursement for State agencies.

FEMA Guidance

Q. How will the current situation affect the printing of warrants for vendors and employees and the delivery of mail?

A. Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) is committed to continue printing warrants and delivering mail per the existing schedules. At this time, printing and mailing will continue as usual. It is recommended that each agency reach out to their employees who have manual checks and have those employees verify their home addresses and update CPPS in the event that we need to send payroll check directly to employees.

Q. Is there a resource to help purchasing staff quickly buy the goods and services most needed during the COVID-19 emergency?

A. 3/30/2020: In an additional effort to expedite the process, the Chief Procurement Officer has granted blanket approval for agencies/IHEs to purchase off of certain cooperatives. See this SPCO COVID-19 Procurement Resources document for more information. The SPCO has compiled information from existing state price agreements, national cooperative procurement organizations, and various other COVID-19 related procurement resources. This document will be updated regularly.

Q. What if I need to complete an emergency purchase?

A. Emergency purchases require approval by the agency/IHE procurement official as per CRS §24-103-206. Justification can be tied to the Governor's declaration of emergency or executive order as appropriate. Emergency procurements shall be limited to supplies, services, or construction items in such quantities as are necessary to meet the emergency. Per Fiscal Rule 3-1, section 11, Purchasing Emergencies also require the agency to contact the State Purchasing and Contracts office in writing as soon as possible after the emergency to provide information regarding the circumstances, goods/services purchased and dollar amount.

Q. How can our agency conduct public bid openings in the event that we are working from home?

A. During this pandemic, where employees are working from home, bid openings may be conducted over conference call or live video.

Q. If my agency is working remotely and a hard copy of a formal bid/proposal is due, what are my options; is electronic submission of proposals an alternative?

A. If your agency is working remotely and a hard copy of a formal bid/proposal is due, you should consider using an electronic submission system. Electronic submission systems must meet sealed bid requirements in the Procurement Code and Rules. Email is allowable for an informal solicitation (documented quote) response submittal because there is no sealed bid requirement. Current approved options for electronic submission of formal solicitations include Box.com and Rocky Mountain BidNet. These options do not waive the requirement to post solicitations on Vendor Self Service. Contact Chris Frenz at CDHS chris.frenz@state.co.us or Noah Kaplan at OIT noah.kaplan@state.co.us with questions regarding Box.com. Contact Brian Swift at SPCO brian.swift@state.co.us with questions regarding Rocky Mountain BidNet. Contact Sherri Maxwell Sherri.Maxwell@state.co.us at SPCO if you would like to discuss other possible methods of electronic proposal submission.

Q. How would my agency conduct solicitation evaluations if my agency is working remotely?

A. For formal solicitation evaluation committee meetings, consider using Google Hangouts or your agency-specific webinar tools (e.g., Zoom, video conferencing, etc). For documented quotes, formal evaluation is not required or recommended; therefore phone/email is recommended to share information.

Q. Will an employee be reimbursed for non-refundable travel costs, changes in reservations, late charges, and related fees?

A. Yes, the State will reimburse the employee for these charges provided the employee paid for these expenses and the expenses were incurred in furtherance of State business.

Q. An employee is working from home and needs to come into the office. Is the mileage from the employee's home to the office reimbursable?

A. The employee's mileage from the employee's home to the office is considered commuting and is not reimbursable. In this situation, an employee's home is considered a temporary work location because the working from home is expected to last for one year or less. The employee's tax home (office) does not change. IRS Publication 463 Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses.

Q. An employee has been assigned a state vehicle to accomplish their job responsibilities. The employee normally drives the employee's personal vehicle to the employee's work location and drives to various locations to accomplish the employee's job responsibilities. With working from home, the employee brings the State assigned vehicle to the employee's home and then drives that vehicle to various locations to accomplish the employee's job responsibilities. In this situation, the employee has the vehicle at home for more than one day a month. Will this situation result in imputed income to the employee?

A. The employee's transportation from home to various work locations is required to accomplish the employee's job responsibilities and is not considered commuting because the employee does not have a main or regular place of work. The IRS maximum of commuting use of an employer's vehicle for no more than one day per month does not apply in this situation. The employee will not have imputed income for use of the State assigned vehicle. IRS Publication 463 Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses, and IRS Publication 5137 Fringe Benefit Guide, Office of Federal State, and Local Governments.

Q. An employee provides mission critical services for the State's response to COVID-19. The employee stays in a hotel and does not return home due to possible infection. The State pays for the hotel. Does this result in imputed income to the employee?

A. No, there would not be imputed income to the employee provided that the State requires the employee to stay at the hotel. Lodging is required as a condition of employment if the employer requires the employee to live in the hotel to be able to perform the job duties. The employee must be required to accept lodging. In this situation. If the employer provides meals as a condition of employment, the cost of the meals also would not be imputed income. IRS Publication 5137 Fringe Benefit Guide, Office of Federal State, and Local Governments.