Coloradans are understandably excited about our state’s new Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. So when some workers aren’t seeing FAMLI deductions on their paychecks, they’re nervous that they might not be eligible when benefits become available in 2024.
We’ve got good news. Almost all Colorado workers will be eligible for FAMLI benefits in 2024, even independent contractors and those working for employers that either have 9 or fewer employees or are local governments that have opted out of the insurance program.
Let’s break down some possibilities for why you might not be seeing FAMLI-related paycheck deductions, and what you need to know if you’d like to participate.
- Your employer may be paying your share.
Quality employees are in hot demand these days, and paid family and medical leave is a proven tool to attract and retain good workers. As a result, some Colorado employers may be exercising their option to pick up the employee share of the premiums (0.45% of wages) as an additional benefit. Ask your employer if they are “covering” your share of the required FAMLI premiums.
- You may work for a local government that isn’t participating.
Colorado’s local government employers (which include school districts) were given the option to opt out of the FAMLI program, and many did. This does not mean that their workers aren’t eligible for FAMLI benefits! It simply means that those workers must voluntarily agree to pay employee premiums for three years if they choose to take FAMLI-covered leave. For those folks, no action is required before benefits become available in 2024. Relax for now, and check back in if you need to take covered leave after next January.
- Your employer may be planning to fulfill their FAMLI requirements by applying for private plan approval.
Employers have the option of using their own private paid family leave insurance policy instead of the state-run FAMLI plan, as long as they get approval from the Division. In order to do this, your employer will need to submit an application that proves their plan provides equal or greater benefits than the State’s FAMLI plan. Employers using self-insured private plans can submit those applications now, and if the plan is approved by the Division before the first premiums are due, they will never need to make a payment and thus may never make any payroll deductions from their staff. Employers looking to purchase a private plan from a third party insurance carrier will be able to submit their applications after making a purchase in the coming weeks.
If an employer submits their private plan approval application by October 31, 2023 and their approved plan has an effective date on or before January 1, 2024, these employers will be eligible to receive a refund for any premiums paid in 2023. So if you don’t see a deduction today, your employer may be planning on covering the premiums for staff now, with the intention of getting a refund from the Division later this year after getting their private plan approved. Everything employers need to know about getting private plan approval can be found here.
- Your employer may be just catching up to their FAMLI obligations.
Many employers in Colorado started deducting employee FAMLI premiums from paychecks starting Jan. 1. But employers that haven’t yet started making payroll deductions are not allowed to retroactively deduct those employee premiums from their workers; instead, they must cover the missed premiums themselves. So don’t worry about getting hit with a big unexpected deduction later (and maybe encourage your employer to register with FAMLI as required and save themselves any possible late fees!).
- You may work for the federal government or a railroad.
In this case, you aren’t seeing FAMLI deductions because you are ineligible for the Colorado insurance program. You might have other options, though. Check out the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, the Military Parental Leave Program and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.
The key takeaway: talk to your employer and ask questions about why you’re not seeing the FAMLI deduction. Regardless of how your employer plans to fulfill their FAMLI obligations, they are required to notify employees of the program by posting the Required Program Notice.
Colorado’s FAMLI program will start paying benefits for qualified recipients in 2024. Nearly all Colorado workers will be eligible, even those who have not yet paid a year’s worth of employee premiums. So when life happens, FAMLI has you covered.
We’ve got a ton of resources available to help workers understand how the FAMLI program works — including a calculator to estimate how much you could expect to receive during covered leave — on our Individuals & Families page.
You can also subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you hear about our webinars, public meetings and other tools to help prepare. We’re also taking your questions on our regular Facebook Live chats. Finally, we invite everyone to send us your questions about paid family and medical leave here: email@example.com.