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Last updated on: December 28th, 2023

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

An employee shall not work in excess of 12 hours daily per day or 40 hours weekly (exclusive Overtime). 


Work Week – Any consecutive seven-day period starting with the same calendar day and hour each week. A workweek is a fixed and recurring period of 168 hours, 7 consecutive 24-hour periods, and is typically established by the employer. Hours worked in two or more workweeks shall not be averaged for the computation of overtime.

Workday – Any consecutive 24-hour period starting with the same hour each day and the same hour as the beginning of the workweek. The workday is set by the employer and may accommodate flexible work shift scheduling.
Stand by – Colorado requires employers to pay employees for waiting time or standby time as that time is counted as hours worked. Waiting or standby time are periods in which employees do not perform any job duties but remain under the control and direction of their employer and are not able to use the time for their own purposes and remain under the control and direction of their employer.

On-call Time – Colorado law does not specifically address on-call time. An employer is typically not required to pay employees for on-call time when the employee is free to leave the employer’s premises and it is generally free to use the time for their own purposes.

Under Colorado law, employers are required to pay employees for waiting time or standby time, which are periods when the employee is not able to use the time for their own purposes and remains under the control and direction of their employer. Such hours are considered as hours worked.

The law stipulates that making employees stay on the employer’s premises, being on duty, or at a designated workplace (excluding situations where an employee is completely relieved from duty but remains on-premises) constitutes compensable time. This includes tasks that take over one minute, such as putting on or removing required work attire (excluding uniforms worn outside of work), exchanging work-related information, undergoing security or safety screenings, staying at the workplace while awaiting job assignment decisions or work commencement, performing off-the-clock clean-up or duties, clocking in or out, or waiting for any of the aforementioned activities. All such time is considered hours worked and must be remunerated accordingly.
Travel Time – Colorado employers are obligated to pay employees for travel time if it is under the control or direction of the employer. Travel time encompasses time spent on travel that benefits the employer, excluding regular home-to-work commuting, and is considered as time worked. Travel to or from a workstation, entirely within the employer’s premises, or using employer-provided transportation at the beginning or end of the workday is generally not considered compensable time, except in the following situations:

      • If it qualifies as time worked.
      • If it occurs after compensable time starts or before compensable time ends.
      • If it involves travel in employer-mandated transportation that significantly prolongs the commute time or exposes employees to increased physical risk compared to an ordinary commute.
Sleeping time – When an employee is required to be on duty for 24 or more hours at a time, up to 8 hours of that time does not need to be included as hour worked if:
      • the employee has expressly agreed that the time will be excluded;
      • the employer provides adequate sleeping facilities for uninterrupted sleep;
      • the employee is able to sleep for at least 5 continuous hours during the sleeping period; 
      • any interruptions during the sleep period are counted as hours worked.
      • If the employee is not able to sleep for 5 continuous hours during the sleep period, all time during the period must be counted as hours worked.
      • When an employee is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours, any sleep hours must be counted as hours worked if the employee is on duty and must work when required.

Time Recording Requirements – Every employer shall keep at the place of employment or at the employer’s principal place of business in Colorado, a true and accurate record for each employee for at least 2 years from the date of entry which contains the following information:

    • name, address, social security number, occupation, and date of hire of said employee.
    • date of birth, if the employee is under 18 years of age.
    • the daily record of all hours worked.
    • record of allowable credits and declared tips.
    • regular rates of pay, gross wages earned, withholdings made, and net amounts paid each pay period.


Any work performed beyond 12 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week is considered overtime work. When employees work more than 12 consecutive hours (regardless of whether the work period overlaps into a second day; without regard to the starting and ending time of the workday) it is also considered overtime.

Pay– An employee is entitled to premium pay at the rate of 1.5 times their regular rate for all hours worked excess in a workweek.

The regular rate of pay includes all compensation paid to employees including the set hourly rate, shift differential, non-discretionary bonuses, production bonuses, and commissions. The following are excludable from the regular rate of pay: business expenses, bona fide gifts, discretionary bonuses, employer investment contributions, vacation pay, holiday pay, sick leave, or jury duty.

According to Colorado’s overtime laws, an employer must pay its employees under the method that would give the greatest benefit to the employee i.e., whichever calculation results in the greater payment of wages. This is a state-mandatory law for all hourly employees in Colorado.


Every employer shall authorize and permit rest periods, which, insofar as practicable, shall be in the middle of each four (4) hour work period. A compensated ten (10) minute rest period for each four (4) hours or major fractions thereof shall be permitted for all employees. Such rest periods shall not be deducted from the employee’s wages. It is not necessary that the employee leave the premises for the said rest period.


An employee that works at least three and a half (3½) continuous hours is permitted:

      • One (1) 10-minute rest period if the employee works at least three and a half (3½) continuous hours and less than 7 continuous hours;
      • Two (2) 10-minute rest periods if the employee works at least seven (7) continuous hours and less than eleven (11) continuous hours;
      • Three (3) 10-minute rest periods if the employee works at least eleven (11) continuous hours and less than fifteen (15) continuous hours; or
      • Four (4) 10-minute rest periods if the employee works at least fifteen (15) continuous hours and less than nineteen (19) continuous hours. Nev. Admin. Code 608.16.

An employee may voluntarily agree to forgo any rest or meal period. Nev. Admin. Code 608.16.


Meal Break – Employees are entitled to an uninterrupted, ‘duty-free’ meal period of at least 30 minutes when the scheduled work shift exceeds five consecutive hours. The employees must be completely relieved of all duties and permitted to pursue personal activities for this to qualify as a non-work, uncompensated period of time. When the nature of the business activity or other circumstances exist that make an uninterrupted meal period impractical, the employee must be permitted to consume an ‘on-duty’ meal while performing duties. Employees who are permitted to fully consume a meal of choice ‘on the job’ must be fully compensated for the on-duty meal period.


Every employer must permit rest periods which, as far as is practicable, are in the middle of each four-hour work period. A compensated 10 minute rest period for every four hours or major fractions thereof shall be permitted for all employees, without deduction from the employee’s wages. It is not necessary that the employee leave the premises for the rest period.


Breast Feeding Break – Employers must allow reasonable unpaid or paid break time for employees to express breast milk for up to 2 years after the child’s birth. They should also make reasonable efforts to provide a private location near the work area, excluding toilet stalls. Employers making reasonable accommodations for expressing breast milk are considered compliant with these requirements.

Public Holidays

Colorado wage law neither mandates nor forbids paid holidays, and it neither mandates nor forbids additional pay for holiday work. If an employee is compensated for a non-working holiday, those hours are not considered for overtime unless the employee actually worked on the holiday. 

Annual Leave

In general, the granting of vacation leave by an employer for a current employee is made pursuant to the employer’s policy. The Division of Labor Standards and Statistics does not intervene in disputes involving the scheduling of vacation leave or the denial of use of vacation leave for current employees.

Special Leave

Unpaid Leave
Employees may be eligible to take unpaid, job-protected, leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Please refer to the main United States page for further details on this Federal law.
Colorado Family and Medical Leave
Duration of the LeaveEmployees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave for Family and Medical purposes with an additional of 4 weeks of paid leave for employees who face complications in pregnancy or childbirth.
Eligibility Criteria – The leave is applicable under the following conditions:
      • Any employer with at least one employee in Colorado and employees who have earned at least $2,500 in wages within the state within the last 4 calendar quarters.
      • Businesses with existing paid family leave benefits can apply to use their private plans, provided they offer similar or superior benefits.
      • Self-employed employees may participate in FAMLI if they have opted into coverage and live and work in Colorado.
Usage of the LeaveAn employee may use the leave for the following purposes:
        • Caring for a new child;
        • Caring for an employee’s serious health condition;
        • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition;
        • Making arrangements for a family member’s military deployment; and
        • Obtaining services in response to intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse.
Pay – The funds is contributed equally between the employer (50%) and employee (50%). Contributions to the program began on January 1, 2023, and the benefits shall be payable from January 1, 2024.
ExceptionEmployers who have less than 10 employees are exempt from contributions but must continue to collect and remit employee contributions.
Application and Notification Process – Employees have the flexibility to apply for FAMLI benefits either directly to the FAMLI Division or through an employer-approved private plan. Employees shall apply at least 30 days before the start date of the leave. In the case of unforeseen circumstances, the Labor Authority will accept the approval within 30 days after the leave has commenced. The FAMLI Division shall promptly inform employers of a benefits application within five business days of its submission. Employer Option for Direct Notification: Employers shall also have the flexibility to request direct notification from employees regarding their need for FAMLI leave.
Jury Duty & Court Attendance Leave

An employer must allow an employee to take leave to attend a judicial proceeding in response to a summons for jury duty. Regularly employed individuals must be paid their regular wages up to $50 per day, for the first 3 days of juror service.

An employer may choose to pay more. Any part-time or temporary worker who worked for the same employer for three months or more is considered to be regularly employed. An employee is not entitled to compensation for time spent:

            • Serving as a witness in a case;
            • Responding to a subpoena; or
            • Acting as a plaintiff or defendant in the courts.


Domestic Abuse Leave

Colorado employers with 50 or more employees must allow up to 3 working days of leave in any 12-month period, with or without pay, to employees who are victims of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault or any other crime related to domestic abuse. An employee is eligible for victim protection leave if he or she has been employed by the employer for 12 months or more and is a victim of:

            • Domestic abuse;
            • Stalking;
            • Sexual assault; or
            • Any other crime found by a court to include an act of domestic violence.


Donor Leave

State employees are entitled to up to two days of paid leave per fiscal year, which cannot be accumulated. (§24-50-104) Living Organ Donor Support Act. The legislation provides paid leave for employees who would like to become living organ donors and gives private employers a voluntary tax credit of 35% if an employee’s salary covers up to 10 business days of paid leave. (HB1202).


Voting Leave

Employers must allow employees who are qualified and registered to vote up to two paid hours of work time to vote in any primary or general election. Employees must apply for leave prior to election day. The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent. However, if the employee requests that the time away from work be at the beginning or end of the work shift, the employer must grant this request. An employer is not required to grant voting leave to any employee who has three or more hours off from work while the polls are open on election day.

Military Leave

Any person who is a duly qualified member of the Colorado National Guard or the reserve forces of the United States who, in order to receive military training with the armed forces of the United States, not to exceed the equivalent of 3 weeks of work on the employee’s regular work schedule in any one calendar year, leaves a position other than a temporary position in the employ of an employer, and who gives evidence of the satisfactory completion of such training, and who is still qualified to perform the duties of such employee’s position, is entitled to be restored to their previous or a similar position in the same status, pay, and seniority. The employee shall be entitled to use any paid leave available to the person or to use unpaid leave for the period of absence for military training. 


A private employee who is a duly qualified member of the Colorado National Guard who leaves or who is absent from their employment, regardless of the length of such absence, in order to engage in active service for state purposes is entitled to the reemployment rights for members so long as such employee otherwise meets the requirements of section 28-3-609; and retains the right to the employee benefits described and is entitled to use any paid leave of absence available to the employee or to use unpaid leave.  


Paid Leave

Every employer in private employment shall provide paid leave to each employee of the employer as follows:

                    • An employee is entitled to at least 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour of work performed.
                    • An employee may, as determined by the employer, obtain paid leave by receiving on the first day of each benefit year the total number of hours of paid leave that the employee is entitled to accrue in a benefit year; or accruing over the course of a benefit year the total number of hours of paid leave that the employee is entitled to accrue in a benefit year.
                    • Paid leave accrued over the course of a benefit year may carry over for each employee between his or her benefit years of employment, except an employer may limit the amount of paid leave for each employee carried over to a maximum of 40 hours per benefit year. An employer may limit the amount of paid leave an employee uses to 40 hours per benefit year. An employer may set a minimum increment of paid leave, not to exceed 4 hours, that an employee may use at any one time.

An employee in private employment may use paid leave available for use by that employee as follows:

                    • An employer shall allow an employee to use paid leave beginning on the 90th calendar day of his or her employment.
                    • An employee may use paid leave available for use by that employee without providing a reason to his or her employer for such use.
                    • An employee shall, as soon as practicable, give notice to his or her employer to use the paid leave available for use by that employee.
Parental Leave for School Activities

Employers with 50 or more employees must grant employees with children up to 4 hours of unpaid leave per school year to attend parent-teacher conferences, school activities, or school-sponsored events, or to volunteer or be involved at the school during school hours. Leave must be taken in at least one-hour increments at a time agreed to by the employer and employee. Notice and documentation requirements apply.


Paid Sick Leave
Duration of Sick Leave: An employee is entitled to receive 1 hour of accrued paid leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year.
Eligibility Criteria for Sick Leave: All employers are required to provide sick leave to their employees regardless of the size or industry. HFWA covers all employees (part-time, seasonal, temporary, etc.), excluding only federal government employees and some railroad employees.


Usage of Sick Leave: An employee may utilize their accrued sick leave for the following purposes:
                    • Inability to work due to a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.
                    • Seeking preventive medical care, including vaccination, or undergoing medical diagnosis, care, or treatment.
                    • Addressing needs arising from domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment, including obtaining medical attention, mental health care, counseling, legal or other victim services, or relocation.
                    • Providing care for a family member requires the same types of care as mentioned above.
                    • Taking leave during a Public Health Emergency, when a public official has closed the employee’s workplace or the school or place of care for the employee’s child.
                    • Dealing with bereavement or attending to financial/legal needs following the death of a family member.
                    • Taking leave due to inclement weather, power/heat/water loss, or other unexpected events that necessitate the evacuation of their residence or caring for a family member whose school or place of care was closed.

An employee must use paid sick leave in hourly increments unless the employee’s employer allows paid sick leave to be taken in smaller increments of time.


Notice Requirement: An employer must permit the use of paid sick leave. Upon an employee’s request which can be communicated orally, in writing, electronically, or through any other acceptable means. The employee should include the anticipated duration of the absence. Employers may establish written policies outlining reasonable procedures for providing notice when the use of paid sick leave is foreseeable, but noncompliance with such policies should not result in the denial of paid sick leave.


An employer can request reasonable documentation for paid sick leave lasting 4 or more consecutive workdays, in such case an employee must provide a medical certificate indicating the cause of leave.


Front Loading – Employers may front load sick leave, which would provide employees with the total amount of required sick leave at the beginning of the year rather than waiting for the employee to accrue the hours.


Carry–Over – An employee can carry forward unused accrued sick leave which may be used in a subsequent year, except that an employer is not required to allow the employee to use more than 48 hours of paid sick leave in a year. 


Sick Leave Pay – Leave must be paid at the same rate of pay the employee is paid for regular working hours, or at the state minimum wage, whichever is greater. Employees transferred to a separate division of the same employer or to a successor employer must be allowed to transfer their accrued sick leave to their new place of employment.


Paid Sick Leave in Case of Public Emergency

Duration of the Leave: In addition to providing paid sick leave, upon the declaration of a public health emergency, every employer in the state is required to supplement each employee’s existing accrued paid sick leave to ensure that the employee is eligible for the following amounts of paid sick leave as:

                    • For employees with a standard workweek of 40 or more hours, a minimum of 80 hours;
                    • For employees with a standard workweek of fewer than 40 hours, a minimum of either the amount of time the employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the average amount of time the employee actually works in a 14-day period, whichever is greater.

                      Usage of the Leave: An employer may count an employee’s unused accrued paid sick leave toward the supplemental paid sick leave. An employee may use paid sick leave under this section until four weeks after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.

Notice requirement: An employee shall notify the employee’s employer of the need for paid sick leave as soon as practicable when the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable and the employer’s place of business has not been closed.


Volunteer Emergency Responder Leave

An employer is prohibited from terminating any employee who fails to report to work or leaves work due to service as a volunteer firefighter responding to an emergency within the employee’s fire department response area. An eligible employee must present his or her employer with documentation from the fire chief of the employee’s volunteer firefighter status prior to taking any leave.

An employee must be allowed to leave work to respond to an emergency if:

            • The employer does not consider the employee to be essential to daily operations; and
            • The emergency is of a magnitude that requires all firefighters to respond.
            • The employee must provide the employer with the applicable fire department chief’s documentation of the time, date, and duration of the employee’s response.
        • The Leave time is unpaid. Unless otherwise agreed, a volunteer firefighter’s leave may not exceed 15 days per calendar year.
Qualified Volunteer Service in a Disaster Leave

Employers must provide unpaid leave of up to 15 days per calendar year to employees who are qualified volunteers called into service by volunteer organizations for a disaster. An employee must provide proof of being a qualified volunteer, and he or she is eligible for leave only if called into service for a disaster.

Employers are not required to provide leave to more than 20% of their employees on any work day or to any employee designated as an essential employee.

Disclaimer: The material provided above is for informational purposes only and is subject to change. We endeavor to keep all material up-to-date and correct but make no representations about the information's completeness, accuracy, or reliability. Laws vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change and interpretation based on individual factors that may differ between organizations. The material is not meant to constitute legal advice and we suggest you seek the advice of legal counsel in connection with any of the information presented.