June 06, 2019

Colorado Enacts New Minimum Wage and ‘Ban the Box’ Laws

A pair of new state laws will significantly impact Colorado employment practices. For employers in the Centennial State, now is the time to begin preparing for potential local changes to the minimum wage and the coming implementation of a statewide “ban the box” law.

Local Governments Free to Set Their Own Minimum Wage Rates

On May 28, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 19-1210, lifting a longstanding state law ban that prevented local, city and county governments from establishing their own minimum wage rates. Local governments can set their own minimum wages starting January 1, 2020, when the new law goes into effect, though those new wages won’t take effect until January 1, 2021.

The new law includes certain restrictions. For example, local governments cannot raise their minimum wages by more than 15 percent annually. In addition, local governments will be required to coordinate any increases to coincide with annual increases in the state minimum wage, which occur in January of each year.

The new law may create complications for employers having workers in multiple locations throughout the state, since it will render 272 municipalities and 64 counties eligible to set their own minimum wages.

The Colorado state minimum wage is currently $11.10 for hourly workers and $8.08 for tipped workers. On January 1, 2020 those rates will increase to $12.00 for hourly workers and $8.98 for tipped workers.

‘Ban the Box’ Is Now the Law in Colorado

On May 28, 2019, Governor Polis signed into law House Bill 19-1025, making Colorado the 13th U.S. state to adopt “ban the box” legislation. The law prohibits employers in both the public and private sector from inquiring about criminal history on an initial job application. The new law also prohibits employers from advertising or making a statement on a job application that an individual with a criminal history may not apply.

HB 19-1025 will take effect on September 1, 2019, for employers that have 11 or more employees. Organizations with fewer than 11 employees will have until September 1, 2021, to comply with the new legislation.

Employers will still be allowed to run background checks under the new law. HB 19-1025 will also exempt employers if the law prohibits an individual from holding a job position with a certain criminal background, or if employers are legally required to conduct a criminal history record review for a specific job.

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