It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important Colorado statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few Colorado labor laws every small business owner should know.


First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:


  • Sick Leave: Employers are not required to provide sick leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one. 
  • Medical Leave: Employers may be required to provide leave in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Vacation Leave: Employers are not required to provide vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one. 
    • Employees must be paid for any accrued vacation time upon separation of employment. 
    • The amount of vacation time an employee can accrue may be capped by the employer. 
    • Employers can implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy that requires employees to use their vacation time by a set date, but there are strict guidelines, including:
      • The employer’s historical practices
      • Industry norms
      • The understandings of the employer and employees
      • Other considerations that may explain when the vacation time becomes “earned” under the specific policy. 
  • Jury Duty: Employees must be paid up to $50 a day for the first 3 days of jury duty, unless another agreement has been made. 
  • Holiday Leave: Private employers are not required to provide holiday leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one. 
  • Voting Leave:  Employees are to be given up to 2 hours of paid leave to vote, unless the employee did not request leave at least one day before the vote, or the employee has 3 or more hours to vote before or after their shift. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave, but may be required to comply with any bereavement policy they may have. 

Final Paycheck

  • Employers must pay fired or laid-off employees immediately after discharging them. 
  • If an employee resigns or is suspended, the employer has until the next scheduled payday to provide the final paycheck. 

Minimum Wage

  • The current minimum wage in Colorado is $12. 
  • State law requires that the minimum wage be increased annually for inflation, and the changes take place each year on January 1. 

Tipped Wages

  • The current minimum wage for tipped employees in Colorado is $8.08. 
  • Employers must ensure their tipped employees are making the regular minimum wage rate of $11.10 with the combined tipped minimum wage and their tips. If they are not, the employer must make up the difference. 
  • Employers are prohibited from taking control of an employee’s tips, but they may implement a mandatory tip pooling or sharing policy as long as they provide written notice to patrons, such as on a menu or receipt. 

Child Labor

  • Minors are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week or more than 8 hours in any 24-hour period. 
  • Minors under the age of 16 may not work more than 6 hours unless the next day is not a school day. 
    • They may not work between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless the next day is not a school day. 
    • During a school day, they may not work more than 3 hours (including Fridays) or more than 18 hours during a school week. 

Meal and Rest Breaks, Overtime

  • Employers are required to pay employees an overtime rate of 1 ½ time their regular pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek, more than 12 hours in a workday or 12 consecutive hours with no workday regard. 
  • Employers in the retail and service, food and beverage, commercial support services, or health and medical industries must provide employees with a meal period of 30 minutes for every consecutive 5 hours worked.
    • The break may be unpaid unless an “on-duty” meal must be consumed, at which point the employee must be compensated. 
    • These employers must provide a 10-minute, paid break in the middle of the shift (if possible) for every 4 hours worked. 
  • Employers in other industries are not required to provide a break, but if they choose to do so, breaks less than 20 minutes must be paid. 

Employment Discrimination

  • Colorado law makes it illegal to discriminate against job candidates or employees due to race, color, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, pregnancy, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or marriage to a co-worker. 
  • Employers may not state in an advertisement or application that a person with a criminal history may not apply to the position. The employer also may not inquire about or require the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history in an initial application.
    • This law is now in effect for employers with 11 or more employees, and takes effect on September 1, 2021 for employers with fewer than 11 employees.
  • Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.       


Colorado is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action. 

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws regarding shift scheduling in Colorado. 

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