Fathers finally getting their due under new Colorado paid leave program

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Every dad knows that bonding with a child is important, and that employers who give women generous paid time off when they add a little one to their families aren’t always as generous when it comes to paid time off for fathers.

That’s why Colorado dads have good reason to be excited that the State’s new Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program doesn’t distinguish between mothers and fathers when it comes to bonding with their children.

When FAMLI begins paying benefits in 2024, leave for bonding with a new child is not limited to birthing parents. 

New parents are eligible for paid leave anytime within the first 12 months after a birth, adoption or foster care placement. Both parents are eligible for FAMLI-covered bonding leave, and they do not have to take the weeks concurrently.

Here’s some other things to know about how dads can get partial pay replacement when they welcome a new child into their families:

  • The parents of most babies born in 2023 will be eligible for paid leave in 2024. That’s in addition to any paid or unpaid leave they have received from their employers in 2023.  
  • Partial pay replacement is available for up to 12 weeks. To see how much you’d take home during FAMLI-covered leave, check out our calculator here.
  • Employers are entitled to 30 days’ notice before a parent begins bonding leave (assuming the child’s arrival was foreseeable more than 30 days in advance). Read more about Colorado’s FAMLI notification requirements here

Colorado’s FAMLI law is not the same as the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is a federal law that requires large employers to offer unpaid, job-protected time off for life events including the birth of a child. Three key differences between FAMLI and FMLA are:

  • FAMLI is paid leave. FMLA is unpaid, job-protected leave.
  • FAMLI benefits are individually portable and are determined by length of time employed in Colorado, not by length of time with the same employer.
  • Employees working for a business of any size are eligible for FAMLI. Self-employed workers are also eligible to opt into the program voluntarily. FMLA is available to employees of covered employers only.

You can read more details about your employer’s responsibilities under FAMLI and FMLA here.

Paid bonding leave has been proven to improve the health of babies and their families and to keep both moms and dads in the workforce. 

Dads are especially in need of state-covered leave. That’s because while almost all fathers rank their children as the top priority in their lives, employers are far less likely to offer paid paternity leave than maternity leave.

In other states with paid family-leave laws, bonding with a new child is the most common reason people take paid leave from work. 

The FAMLI Division at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is here to answer all your questions about bonding leave. Give us a call Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at 1-866-CO-FAMLI (1-866-263-2654) to ask your questions.