paid holidays in Colorado

Paid Holidays in Colorado (2024 Guide for Employers)

According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 73 percent of small businesses offer PTO to full-time employees, including paid holidays. So, it may come as a surprise that 0% of Colorado businesses are required by federal law to provide their employees with holidays. There is no federal law, no parameter in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that requires business owners to provide employees with holiday leave.

And yet, many Colorado business owners do so anyway. Why?

In this post, we’re going to answer this question and more queries relating to holiday time, including other types of PTO, to fully breakdown the benefits of offering paid holidays to your employees.

What is a Paid Holiday?

A paid holiday is a religious, state, or national holiday that Colorado employers have the eligibility to grant their employees. While on a paid holiday, team members are compensated with a full day’s worth of wages.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of workers in private industries have paid holidays off. These companies are volunteering to offer paid holidays to their employees, which allows them to be more attractive to higher-quality talent in a competitive hiring market.

Who do Paid Holidays apply to?

Only public employers are required by federal law to offer paid holidays to their employees. Public employees are identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as anyone working for the United States Government, directly for a state, the District of Colombia, a territory or possession of the United States, a city, a municipality, a township, a county, a parish, or a similar government.

That said, if a private employer chooses to offer paid holidays to their employees, Colorado labor laws will hold them to any written agreements they outline.

Federal Holidays

The list of all federal holidays to be observed throughout the 2024 calendar year (regardless of what state you’re in) and the date they fall on is as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day / Robert E. Lee’s Birthday / Civil Rights Day (Monday, January 15)
  • George Washington’s Birthday / President’s Day (Monday, February 19)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27 – last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (Wednesday, June 19)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 14)
  • Veterans Day (Monday, November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25)

It’s worth noting how some states change the official names of some of these holidays.

Any legal holiday that happens to fall on a Saturday results in employees having the preceding Friday before the holiday off. If a federal holiday happens to land on a Sunday, employees get a day off the following Monday.

Holidays Specific to the State of Colorado

The only Colorado state holiday of note is Frances Xavier Cabrini Day. Interestingly, this holiday replaces Columbus day on the Colorado holiday schedule. Instead of Colorado Law requiring public employers to recognize Columbus Day, they celebrate Frances Xavier Cabrini Day.

Impact of Common Colorado Leave Laws

While we’re observing the overall impact of paid holidays on work hours, let’s take a look at Colorado’s Labor Laws.

Sick Time

The Colorado Health Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) requires Colorado employers to provide two types of paid sick leave to their employees: accrued leave and public health emergency (PHE) leave (not currently in effect).

An employer must provide 1 hour of accrued, paid leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year.

The HFWA covers all employees (part-time, seasonal, temporary, etc.) and only excludes federal government employees and some railroad employees.

Vacation Leave and Holiday Time

Colorado does not have any laws that mandate having to give your employees holiday leave. You can decide how your employees accrue vacation time at your own leisure, so long as you clearly outline these rules in your PTO policy, employee handbook, or other written documents.

That said, Colorado law does stipulate that vacation time earned is considered wages or compensation. Employees cannot lose it, and Colorado itself has banned use-it-or-lose it PTO policies.

Parental Leave

Colorado votes approved the paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program in 2020, and it went into effect January 1, 2024. Covered Colorado workers may receive up to twelve weeks of leave per year for several reasons, including to bond with a new child, including adopted or fostered children.

Bereavement Leave

Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) can also be extended to cover bereavement, or financial/legal needs after a death of a family member. As such, this allows eligible Colorado workers to use their accrued paid sick leave for bereavement.

Jury Duty

Colorado state law protects a juror’s job. Employers are prohibited from threatening, coercing, or discharging an employee for reporting for juror service as summoned. Employers are also prohibited from making demands upon any employed juror which will substantially interfere with the effective performance of a jury service.

All regularly employed trial or grand jurors must be paid regular wages, but not to exceed fifty dollars per day unless by mutual agreement between the employee and employer, by their employers for the first three days of juror service or any part thereof.


Employers must grant employees two hours of paid leave to vote, unless the polls are open three hours before or after their regular working shift.

Overtime Pay

Colorado requires employers to pay overtime for hours that an employee works during a single day. Colorado overtime requirements law requires employers pay employees 1.5 times their normal rate of pay for work performed by the employee in excess of:

  • 40 hours per workweek
  • 12 hours per workday
  • 12 consecutive hours of work regardless of when the employee started and ended in a workday

Read our guide here for a more comprehensive look at how Colorado Law affects your workplace.

The Benefits of Paid Holidays

Colorado is one of the more generous states when it comes to requiring that employers provide paid time off for employees. Because of this, some business owners may decide to opt out of offering more types of PTO, such as paid holidays. However, this means missing out on the long-term benefits of offering paid holidays to your team members. Such as:

#1 – Paid Holidays Appeals to High Skill Workers

Paid time off is one of the key benefits that workers consider when choosing a place of employment. During the pandemic we saw a drastic increase in interest in work-life balance. Terms like “quiet quitting” and “great resignation” rose to all-time heights in popularity. Workers are more conscious than ever of how much their own experience matters in the workplace. While not every worker will be in an advantageous experience to pick and choose their places of employment, the highly desirable workers – the ones with proven track records of delivering great work – certainly will. A generous approach to paid holidays can help you appeal to this kind of employee.

#2 – Paid Holidays Improve Company Culture

Managing your work environment is a skill all on its own. Part of it is understanding how paid holidays can have a positive impact on a worker’s attitude. Being able to take time away from work gives them space to recharge, handle any issues in their personal lives, and come back to work ready to complete tasks. Beyond improving their productivity, these breaks can improve their mental health, which means better attitudes and cooperation. These benefits spread to your whole team, creating a more positive work culture.

It’s also worth noting that the opposite can take place. Overwork and a lack of breaks can lead to negative attitudes, employee burnout, and a toxic workplace that’s less productive and cooperative.

#3 – Paid Holidays Save Money

This point may seem counterintuitive when you consider that a paid holiday is an employee being paid a full day’s wages to not work. The trick is to look at the long-term implications. If your team members aren’t being offered a generous amount of days off, they are more likely to experience overwork and stress. From there it’s a lot more likely for them to outright quit (45% of quitting workers do so due to a lack of health insurance and PTO) or need to be fired due to their declining performance.

The problem with replacing workers, even when they’re starting to become a detriment, is that it’s expensive. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that replacing a worker costs six to nine months of an employee’s salary. It’s more economical to avoid needing to do this if you can, and ensuring your employees have adequate breaks can aid this goal.

Track Paid Holidays and Employee Leave with Buddy Punch

Now that we’ve made it clear why business owners should offer paid holidays to employees, it’s time to talk about how to make PTO management easier. Workforce management software like our very own Buddy Punch tends to come with paid time off tracking features in addition to other useful functions to make employee management easy.

For example, Buddy Punch’s Paid Time Off Tracking Feature lets you manage the most common types of PTO or create custom types of leave to monitor at your own discretion. Buddy Punch allows for automatic calculation of PTO Accruals based on the rules you establish (including negative balances, maximum hours allowed, and accrual balance carry over or reset). Whenever your employees put in a leave request, you or your administrators will receive a notification. Once you approve or deny the request, your team member will be sent a notification in turn.

You can also take PTO management to the next level with Buddy Punch. If you choose to, you can enable Employee Self-Service on an employee-by-employee basis. With this feature on, trusted employees will be automatically approved for vacation time, sick days, or personal leave. Use this to reduce the amount of micromanagement you have to do, and as a reward for team members to strive towards.

Note: Paid time off management is just one feature that Buddy Punch offers as an all-in-one employee management solution. There are also features like employee time tracking, team scheduling, Built-In Payroll, and more. Click here to learn more about Buddy Punch, or click here to view a demo video.

Paid Holidays can initially seem like a hassle or even a detriment to offer your employees, but past that first impression they’re extremely beneficial for most business owners, especially if you’re towards long-term success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

So, offering PTO of any kind is optional in Colorado?

Colorado business owners are not required to offer any type of PTO besides Paid Sick Leave, which must be given to everyone, including full-time and part-time employees.

Since when has Sick Leave been mandatory in Colorado?

Since July 14, 2020, with the signing of the Health Families and Workplace Act (HFWA).

Do Colorado employers have to pay out unused PTO in case of termination?

Yes, unused vacation pay must be paid when employees separate from employment, whether they are fired with or without cause, resign with or without notice, or separate for another reason.

Do employers tend to offer employees all 11 paid federal holidays every fiscal year?

According to a survey conducted by Zippia, the average U.S. employees receive 7.6 paid holidays. The two most common paid holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas, while President’s Day and New Year’s Eve are the two least common.

How much is Holiday Pay?

Colorado Wage law does not set any parameters to be followed for business owners when it comes to holiday pay. While state employees are entitled to premium holiday pay if they need to work on a holiday, private employers can choose if they’re going to offer holiday pay or simply just time off in their leave policy.

How much is the minimum wage in Colorado?

Colorado’s minimum wage across the state is currently $14.42, but there are a few local areas that are higher:

  • In Denver, the minimum wage is $18.29.
  • In Edgewater, the minimum wage is $15.02.
  • In Boulder County (unincorporated areas only) the minimum wage is $15.69.

Official State Resources

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Colorado Holiday & Paid Leave Laws but does not constitute legal advice, nor does it replace an attorney-client relationship. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Colorado, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney or employment lawyer to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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