We know the word “family” may mean something different to everyone. That’s why Colorado is committed to supporting paid leave for all families with the nation’s first paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program that was passed at the ballot box. Under the voter-approved program, individuals and families in Colorado will be able to take paid family leave starting in January 2024.
As the country celebrates Pride Month, the FAMLI Division is drawing attention to its inclusive definition of family. The new program recognizes that individuals form significant bonds with others that are outside of the “traditional family unit.” At FAMLI, we know that someone does not have to be related to you (by blood or by marriage) to be considered family. FAMLI also has a broad definition of what it means to be a parent. This focus on inclusivity means that the LGBTQ+ community will have the same access to benefits—whether they are using it to take care of a family member or to bond with a new child—once FAMLI benefits become available in 2024.
“Paid family and medical leave is a benefit Colorado workers want, and we are eager to roll out the program to all eligible individuals and families who need support while they care for themselves or their families—regardless of how they define their family,” said Joe Barela, Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). “Providing inclusive services is critically important to executing our vision—a working economy that elevates all of Colorado. I’m proud to see our FAMLI Division living up to that promise.”
Colorado was recently ranked the second best state in the US for the LGBTQ+ community. This is according to the Movement Advanced Project (MAP), an independent, non-profit think tank. Colorado scored 42.5 out of 43.5 points. MAP has seven different policy and law categories that they use to rank each state. Colorado’s FAMLI Division is proud to be an important part of Colorado going from being ranked 5th in the nation last year, to taking the number two spot!
MAP gave Colorado top points in the State Family Leave Law category. Colorado is one of 10 states (and D.C.) that grants workers leave to care for a partner even if they are not in a legally recognized relationship. Colorado is also one of 13 states (and D.C.) to include paid time off. FAMLI considers the following factors when it comes to familial relationships:
- Shared financial responsibility, included shared leases, common ownership of property, joint liability for bills, or beneficiary recognition.
- Emergency contact appointment.
- Expectations of care created by the relationship and/or previous care arrangements.
- Cohabitation and the length of time in partnership.
- Geographical proximity.
MAP gave Colorado top points (7/7) in the Relationship and Parental Recognition category. This category includes joint adoption, family services, non-discrimination laws, recognition for parents using assisted reproduction, and recognition of de facto parents. Colorado same-sex couples have identical parenting rights as same-sex couples.
When it comes to parents specifically, the FAMLI Division defines a parent as someone that is ‘in loco parentis’. This is a relationship that is created when a person assumes the responsibility of a parent to a child. A legal or biological relationship is not necessary. When the FAMLI Division is considering in loco parentis status, the Division will consider; the age of the child; the degree to which the child is dependent on the person; the amount of financial support is being provided; and the extent of parental responsibilities that are being fulfilled. The FAMLI Act does not restrict the number of parents that a child may have. Persons that are in loco parentis include those with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support the child. FAMLI is committed to an inclusive parental leave program. Parental leave will be available for parents that birth, adopt, use surrogacy or other means to become parents.
The FAMLI Division understands that the traditional family is not always who individuals can rely on to provide care for a loved one when life pulls them away from their jobs. FAMLI will grant workers the ability to take paid leave to take care of a chosen family member, or a non-biologically related friend, partner, elder or other loved one that is part of their social support system. The FAMLI Division is committed to providing paid family leave benefits that include all families, regardless of how the family is formed. This benefit allows Colorado workers the opportunity to be there for the most important people in their lives when life happens.