New Colorado Laws Expand Rights of Employees and Job Applicants Affected by Pregnancy or Recent Childbirth, Allow Employees to Inspect Personnel Files, and Eliminate an Employment Eligibility Requirement

Among other bills impacting business and other organizations in Colorado, two bills imposing new requirements on employers and one bill eliminating a burden passed through the Colorado legislature this past session, as follows:

Accommodations for Pregnancy-Related Conditions

Beginning on August 10, 2016, employers in Colorado will be required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to applicants for employment and to employees who have any health condition related to pregnancy or the physical recovery from childbirth, if the applicant or employee requests an accommodation.

Unlike employers’ current legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants for employment and existing employees who are pregnant or who have recently given birth, and who qualify as “disabled” under federal or Colorado law, reasonable accommodations will be required for any “health condition.” Like current federal and Colorado law covering disabled applicants and employees, a reasonable accommodation is not required if it would impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business. And, this bill contains some limits on the types of accommodations that employers can be required to provide. But, among other accommodations, paid leave, unpaid leave, and the transfer of another employee to a different job to accommodate the employee with the health condition, might be required in certain circumstances.

Employers must also provide a written notice to employees at specified times to inform them of their rights under this new law. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place accessible to employees.

Employee Right to Inspect Personnel File

Currently, no Colorado law specifies whether an employer must allow an employee to inspect his or her own personal file; although many employers do allow employees to inspect their files under specified conditions.

Beginning on January 1, 2017, Colorado law will require most employers to allow an employee who makes a request to inspect his or her personnel file the right to do so at least once per year, and at least one time after termination of the employee’s employment. Under the new law, employers will be able to put some restrictions on an employee’s inspection rights. And, a few types of employers and employees are excluded from this law.

Extra Employment Eligibility Verification Eliminated

Since 2007, business and other organizations employing people in Colorado have been required to comply with the Colorado employment eligibility verification process. That process required employers verify the legal employment status of all newly hired employees by inspecting and making a photocopy of the employment eligibility documents the employer was required to inspect under federal law. And, then the employer had to complete a Colorado affirmation of legal status form, and retain it with the copies of the identification documents.

In a rare reduction of employer burden, beginning on August 10, 2016, Colorado employers will no longer have to comply with the Colorado employment eligibility verification process. Colorado employers will still have to comply with the federal employment eligibility verification law requirements. And, the Director of the Colorado Division of Labor will still have the right to conduct random audits of employers and to require employers to submit to the Division documentation to demonstrate the employer has complied with the federal law (such as properly completed I-9 forms).

The changes in Colorado law discussed above might necessitate changes to an employer’s policies and employee manual. And, now might be a good time for an employer to have its employee manual reviewed for compliance with those changes in Colorado law and other changes in Colorado and federal law over the last few years.

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