Once FAMLI benefits become available to workers in January 2024, the program will ensure Colorado workers have access to paid leave when they face life circumstances that force them to choose between earning a paycheck, or taking care of themselves or their family. Eligible employees may receive up to twelve weeks of leave. Those who experience pregnancy or childbirth complications may receive an additional four weeks.
It’s important to note that FAMLI differs from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The three main differences are:
- FAMLI is paid leave. FMLA is unpaid, job-protected leave.
- Employees working for a business of any size are eligible for FAMLI.
- Self employed workers are also eligible to opt into the FAMLI program. FMLA is available to employees of covered employers only.
Weekly Income Formula
During their leave, the FAMLI Division will pay employees up to 90% of their wages based on a sliding scale and proportional to Colorado's average weekly wage. As of July 2022, the State's average weekly wage is $1,350.55. Low wage earners will qualify for a higher percentage of wage replacement. Benefits are capped at $1,100 per week.
For information on what your FAMLI benefit would be, check out the Premium and Benefits Calculator.
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FAMLI for Self-Employed Individuals
Most Colorado workers will be eligible for FAMLI benefits, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors. Participation for self-employed workers is optional. If you do decide to opt into FAMLI as a self-employed worker, you must agree to participate by paying premiums and reporting your income for a minimum of three years in order to avoid only opting in only when the need for leave is foreseeable. There is no enrollment period for self-employed workers. You can opt in any time and apply for leave any time once benefits become available in 2024. As such, registration in My FAMLI+ Employer is not required until then. If you do happen to register early, premiums do not need to be paid until 2024 when benefits become available. You may voluntarily submit your wage data in 2023 to prepare, but this is not required. No action is necessary until benefits become available.
Self-employed individuals who do not wish to participate in FAMLI do not need to take any action to opt out of the program. You do not need to register in order to opt out. You will only need to register in order to voluntarily opt in and commit to paying premiums for three years once you can self-elect coverage in 2024.
If you are a sole proprietor, or an owner of a family business that does not have any employees, or use an S-Corp business structure and are still unsure whether you qualify as “self-employed,” here are some things to know:
- The structure of a business isn’t what matters for FAMLI compliance. What matters is whether the business has qualifying employees.
- If you have at least one qualifying employee, you will need to register with the Division, submit wage data and send in premiums on behalf of that employee.
- Not sure whether a relative, fellow owner or business partner counts as an “employee”? Under the FAMLI Act, an “employee” is any individual, including a migratory laborer, performing labor or services for the benefit of another, irrespective of whether the common law relationship of master and servant exists. The FAMLI Act’s definition of “employee” includes a two-prong exception:
- If a person is both primarily free from control in the performance of their work, and that work is part of their independent profession or trade, then that person is not an employee and payments to them would not be subject to premiums. §8-13.3-503 (7) C.R.S.
- Individuals who meet this exception would be considered “self-employed,” and their participation in FAMLI is optional.
Calculating Your Wages as a Self-Employed Individual
Self-employed workers will only be responsible for paying the 0.45% employee share of the premium. Self-employed workers may decide between reporting their gross income or net earnings from their self-employment in order to determine their quarterly premium payments and potential benefit payments. Self-employed individuals will be able to change between net earnings and gross income one time within a coverage period. Self-employed workers will report their earnings and pay their premiums within My FAMLI+ Employer after self electing coverage once FAMLI benefits become available in 2024.
The FAMLI Division may require copies of tax returns, bank records, self-attestations, or any other documents deemed necessary by the Division to verify or determine the income of individuals electing coverage as a self-employed individual.