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Politics and Government

Paid family, sick leave initiative makes Colorado ballot

The initiative calls for employers and their workers to pay into a fund that would allow workers to be paid while taking time off for medical reasons for themselves or family

A proponent of Colorado's paid family and parental leave ballot measure hoists a box full of signatures onto a cart in Denver on Friday, July 31, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

An initiative asking Colorado voters if they want to create a $1.3 billion state-run paid family and medical leave insurance program has qualified for the November ballot.

The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday that Colorado Families First, a liberal coalition, had submitted enough valid voter signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. More than 124,000 signatures are required to qualify.

The initiative calls for employers and their workers to pay into a fund that would allow workers to be paid while taking time off for medical reasons for themselves or family.

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Employees could qualify for up to 90% of regular weekly pay — but no more than $1,100 per week — for up to 12 weeks of leave. Current federal law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave without requiring employers to pay them.

State Democratic lawmakers have tried in recent years to create a paid family leave program. Opponents questioned the cost to employers and workers as well as the fiscal soundness of past proposals.

Inspired by the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers did pass legislation this year requiring employers to provide at least six days of paid sick leave starting in 2021 — and 16 during a declared public health emergency.

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