Boulder County COVID-19 status is at Level Clear | Vaccine locations and info is available in English and Spanish.

Rights & Responsibilities in the Workplace

Rights & Responsibilities in the Workplace

En Español

Employer Requirements

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

  • The employer should contact the business liaison team for help stopping any further spread among your workforce.
  • If two or more employees test positive within a 14 day period, it may be considered an outbreak, and the employer must contact the Boulder County Epidemiology team at: to report the outbreak and work on a mitigation plan to reduce further spread of the virus.
    1. Send the employee home immediately; they must isolate for at least 10 days and according to public health requirements
    2. Clean and disinfect all surfaces, provide extra ventilation
    3. Require all employees who had close contact with the person who tested positive (e.g. was within 6 feet for cumulative 15 minutes within a 24-hour period, regardless of mask wearing) to quarantine at home for 14 days. A negative test result does not remove the requirement to quarantine because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to become detectable. We know this requirement can be challenging when running a business. Please reach out to us for support.

Reporting Illness

The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to separate those who are ill or test positive from those who are well.

  • According to the Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law (PHEW) employers cannot discipline, cut hours, reduce wages, or fire an employee for asking their options about taking leave, taking time off they are entitled to, or asking about their rights.
  • The law also applies to employees working as independent contractors and those who are undocumented.


Signage helps establish expectations for employees and customers. Materials for business are available from:

Legal Protections for Employees

Leave for Receiving Vaccine

Under Colorado paid sick leave law, all employees in Colorado have a right to take paid leave from work to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Employees are also entitled to use paid leave if they experience vaccine side effects that prevent them from working.

For more information, employees, employers or others can review the CDLE Division of Labor Standards and Statistics fact sheet, INFO #6B, “2021 Paid Leave under HFWA”.

Medical Leave

If employees have paid medical leave available, they’re more likely to adhere to isolation and quarantine guidance which helps to stop further spread of the virus. The following laws that may apply:

  • Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplace Act (HFWA) (Spanish) requires all employers of all sizes to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees for COVID-19 reasons, including having COVID-19 symptoms and seeking diagnosis, being required to quarantine or isolate, caring for someone else who is required to quarantine or isolate, or caring for a child due to a COVID-19 school closure.
  • Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules (Colorado HELP). This requires employers to provide up to four days of paid medical leave for individuals who need to self-isolate or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) Overview FAQ on FFCRA from Department of Labor
  • An employee who has COVID-19 may be entitled to an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as medical leave if symptoms are serious enough to substantially limit major life activities like breathing and taking care of one’s self.

Report a Concern

If an employer is not meeting these requirements report concerns:

Boulder County Public Health staff will determine if there has been a violation of a public health order and will follow up with the business or work with law enforcement if needed. If Boulder County Public Health identifies employers who continue to violate employment or COVID-19 requirements, the state will send them a letter reinforcing their responsibilities under the law.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment accepts complaints for unpaid paid sick leave, other earned wages and other violations of Colorado wage and hour law. Workers who have had their rights violated are entitled to back pay, possibly restitution and reinstatement of their position.

Legal Resources

Legal Help

  • Colorado Department of Labor & Employment, Division of Hour and Wage
  • Boulder County Bar Association Virtual Legal Clinic (Spanish)
    • Click yes for “Is this COVID-19 related” to prioritize a request for an attorney
  • Towards Justice online intake form (English/Spanish) for questions or to evaluate cases here: Employers do not need to be based in Colorado (traveling nurses, contract work)

Use these resources when you have questions like

  • I’m under quarantine/isolation. Should I be getting paid?
  • Someone in my work tested positive. Can I stay home?
  • Can my employer make me come to work?
  • And other nuanced questions that require legal interpretation

Boulder County Public Health cannot provide legal advice and does not endorse any attorney or law firm. Boulder County Public Health is not responsible for the availability of outside resources, nor does Boulder County Public Health endorse, nor is it responsible for, any of the products or services delivered by any outside organization.

Contact Us

Boulder County Public Health

Main: 303-441-1100
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