We are all working hard to rebuild and recover from this pandemic and while our economy is beginning to strengthen, new variants repeatedly crop up and wreak havoc across the country. A critical component of ensuring we can stay on the road to recovery is making certain everyone has a safe and healthy workplace. Now with Colorado’s paid sick leave policy in effect, I feel we are on the right track.
On January 1 of this year, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act went into full effect, which means that every single worker in Colorado can now earn paid sick days to take care of themselves or their families without having to worry about missing a paycheck or losing their job. It allows working people in Colorado to earn up to 48 hours of paid sick time per year, at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. The law also guarantees additional time off when workers are infected with COVID or need to care for a child whose school or day care has been shuttered because of the virus.
Without policies like this in place, working people are too often forced to choose between going to work or missing a paycheck because they were too sick or had to care for a sick family member. Prior to the passage of this law, nearly half of all Colorado workers had no paid sick leave benefits.
From a business perspective, this is a commonsense policy that helps businesses like mine stay open. It’s simple: when sick employees can stay home and get the medical care they need, they recover faster. They also prevent spreading illness to coworkers and customers. If everyone gets sick, my business just can’t run like it should, and everyone suffers as a result. For these reasons, I believe there is strong support for paid sick leave policies among business owners like myself.
Every business owner should want to create an environment where their employees feel supported, especially in a time of need. Not only is it the right thing to do, but these are the kinds of benefits that workers are looking for in employment opportunities. Colorado is a more attractive place to live and work with this policy now in effect, and by guaranteeing paid sick days for all working people, we’ll attract the best of the best here in Colorado.
I’m thankful to Governor Jared Polis, Colorado lawmakers and all the advocates who worked to pass a paid sick leave policy that prioritizes keeping our workplaces healthy and safe. Ensuring access to paid sick leave for all Coloradans is essential to keeping businesses like mine healthy and open.
I believe offering paid sick days is the right thing to do for our communities. However, as the legislature debates additional measures to support Colorado businesses throughout the pandemic recovery, I hope that our elected officials consider ways to bolster our smallest, most vulnerable businesses that are struggling to maintain and support their workforce.
Sandy Stroehmann is the founder of Elixir Mind Body Massage in Denver.