Serving Colorado's Counties

With the increase in telecommuting and remote work since the pandemic, employers are receiving more employee requests to work remotely outside of Colorado. While out-of-state work arrangements can help with employee recruitment and retention, employers should be mindful of their legal obligations with respect to such arrangements.

ISSUES TO CONSIDER INCLUDE:

Workers’ Compensation Laws: Employers generally must comply with the workers’ compensation
laws of the state where their employees are physically working. While laws vary by state, most states require employers to register and obtain workers’ compensation insurance in the state where the employee is working.

The workers’ compensation division in the applicable state can provide information on the state’s
specific requirements. CWCP’s workers’ compensation policy covers only employees working in
Colorado, but we may be able to assist you in obtaining a policy endorsement for other states. Please reach out to CTSI if you have any questions about this.

Local Employment Laws: Remote workers may also be subject to the employment laws of the city and state where they are working. Laws that may apply to remote workers include those addressing overtime, rest breaks, minimum wage, job postings, and workplace discrimination.

Unemployment Insurance: Employers who have employees working out-of-state on more than a temporary basis may need to register and pay unemployment insurance premiums for the employee through the state unemployment insurance program where the employee is working.

Income tax: Employers may also need to withhold state income tax in the state where the remote employee is working.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR COUNTIES

While allowing employees to perform remote work outside of Colorado may be an option for some counties,
it is important to understand that doing so may implicate laws and obligations in the state where the employee
is located. Failure to understand and comply with these obligations may expose the county to liability,
including penalties for noncompliance with the state’s workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and
tax laws.

According to the US Department of Labor, injuries to hands account for nearly 25% of all lost-time in the workplace. That’s a total of 110,000 injuries per year. Yet, cuts, burns and bruises caused by a lack of protection or improper care can easily be prevented.

ACCORDING TO THE EXPERTS

Approximately 70% of hand injuries come as a result from employees not wearing any safety gloves, while the remaining 30% occur while wearing the wrong kind of gloves. According to OSHA, these kinds of injuries are preventable through simple interventions like safety gloves and other hand Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It’s as simple as that.

A recent blog from WeeklySafety.com states the following injuries can occur when workers don’t wear the proper hand protection: skin absorption of harmful substances, cuts, lacerations, abrasions, puncture
wounds, nerve or tendon damage, heat stress or frostbite, and chemical or thermal burns.

In fact, according to OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.138(a), “Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees’ hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes.”

That being said, most machinists who are operating rotating machines should not wear gloves. In fact OSHA suggests machinery have guards installed or incorporated into their design that prevent hands from contacting the point of operation or other moving parts.

THE RIGHT GLOVE

Chemical Proof Gloves: Any job positions that expose employees to harmful chemicals might result in a chemical reaction. Not only can chemicals burn or chap hands but can also penetrate the skin itself and enter the blood stream.

Cut Resistant Gloves: Often made with stainless steel Kevlar and mesh, these gloves are resistant to damage from sharp or abrasive objects such as sharp metal edges like culverts or handling materials. Specifications are measured by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) cut level.

Thermal Proof Gloves: Heat-resistant gloves protect against extremely hot temperatures, often fabricated from neoprene or aluminized material. Meanwhile, workplace cold-resistant gloves are different than typical gloves made for everyday use.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR COUNTIES

As with all PPE use, counties should review employees’ work tasks and determine what type of precautions are needed, including that for hand safety, to protect employees from injuries. Contact CTSI Loss Control for more information on PPE evaluation and usage at (303) 861-0507.

Changes made by IRS and Treasury

The Treasury Department and IRS have extended the deadline from Jan. 31 to March 2 for employers to provide ACA forms to employees. Originally ruled in 2021, the extension now remains permanently in effect.

More Details

The 30-day extension to group health plans allows employers until March 2 to provide employees with 1095-B and 1095-C forms. These health care forms provide information on employee insurance coverage. The IRS is eliminating “Good Faith” transition relief since the deadline has been extended. Therefore, employers are expected to file the forms in a timely manner.

Under the ACA’s Employer Mandate, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees and dependents so long as coverage meets minimum value. That coverage must be affordable based on the IRS-approved methods for calculating affordability. To learn more click here.

Why the Change?

Under the original rules of the ACA, reporting entities were supposed to issue the health coverage forms to employees no later than Jan 31 for the prior year.

However, according to the Groom Law Group, “The challenges related to preparing and distributing these forms on such a short time-frame soon became apparent, so through a series of Notices issued every year since these reporting rules first went into effect, the IRS has extended the deadline to furnish the Forms to individuals and provided good faith relief from reporting penalties.”

Rather than continuing to temporarily extend the deadline every year, both the Department of Treasury and IRS opted to permanently extend the deadline.

What this Means for Counties

While the extension is meant to give employers more time to distribute ACA forms, it also demands that in return employers file these same forms in a timely manner, or risk receiving steep penalties for failing to file and furnish accurate ACA filings for the tax year. In 2022 employers were fined $570 for every late or inaccurate ACA filing. Employers have until Feb. 28 to file ACA forms by paper and until March 31 to file them electronically.


For members of the County Health Pool (CHP) for whom CHP files ACA forms on the county’s behalf, staff will be in touch for updating and filing 2022 policy year forms in 2023. For any questions, please reach out to CHP staff at (303) 861-0507.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and State of Colorado require workplaces, including local governments, to provide employees with posted notices. Lists of notices can be found online and can often be downloaded for free.

State of Colorado


The State of Colorado posts a list of required federal or state law posters at https://cdle.colorado.gov/posters. These posters are meant to educate employees on a variety of labor law topics. Required employer posters include those pertaining to Minimum Wage Order, Anti-Discrimination, Employment Security, Workers’ Compensation, Notice to Employer of Injury, Paydays, and Pregnancy Accommodations and more. To purchase an All-In-One poster in both English and Spanish click here.
Please note that HB22-1112, which went into effect on August 10, 2022, extended the time for injured workers to report their injuries to 10 days from the previous four days. It also requires employers to keep a written record of the report. Changes were made to the poster employers are required to post. A link to the newly redesigned poster is available here.
Though not required, notices are also available for the 2023 FAMLI Program, which states that Colorado workers who earn at least $2,500 in yearly wages within the state will be eligible to take paid family and medical leave during specifically covered circumstances on the poster. The poster can be found here.
Some state posters do not specify if their content applies to local governments. This varies, so for additional information on the applicable definitions, consult your HR representative or your county attorney.

Federal Level


Statutes and regulations enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) require that notices be provided to employees and/or posted in the workplace. DOL provides free electronic copies of the required posters, some of which are available in multiple languages. They can be found at https://www.dol.gov/general/topics/posters; this includes posters of special interest to federal contractors.

What This Means for Counties


Failure to post as required is a violation of Colorado and Federal laws and can result in fines and penalties. Generally, you can assume that a poster should be posted in the lunchroom, general meeting rooms, or places where all employees can view it, for each physical location or building in which county employees or contractors report. It is an easy violation for an auditor to check, so do not overlook this important requirement. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861-0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

In November 2016, Colorado citizens voted for Amendment 70, which raises the state minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest wage that can be paid to most workers under the law. Since July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage law supersedes state minimum wage laws only where the federal minimum wage is greater than the state minimum wage. Alternatively, in states like Colorado, where the state minimum wage is greater than the federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage prevails, and employees are entitled to the higher minimum wage.

Amendment 70

Amendment 70 posed the following question to Colorado voters:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution increasing the minimum wage to $9.30 per hour with annual increases of $0.90 each January 1 until it reaches $12 per hour effective January 2020, and annually adjusting it thereafter for cost-of-living increases?

The Amendment passed by 55.4% resulting in the state minimum wage rising from $8.31 per hour to $9.30 on January 1, 2017. Because the Amendment raises the rate in stages, each year since has seen an increase as shown in the following table.                                    

Table: Minimum wage by year.

Since the minimum wage reached $12 in 2020, it now adjusts based on the annual cost of living increase. The Colorado minimum wage adjusts annually for inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The inflation adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The cost-of-living adjustment increases by 8.68%. for 2023.

Local Minimum Wage Laws

In May of 2019, Colorado lawmakers passed House Bill 19-1210, which gives local jurisdictions the power to set their own minimum wage, subject to certain restrictions. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2020.

What This Means for Counties

Effective January 1, 2023, Colorado will raise its minimum wage rate to $13.65 per hour. Counties should begin paying all minimum wage employees the new rate of $13.65 for regular employees and $10.62 for tipped employees unless and until they enact a local minimum wage law. For more information, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

An organization can be held liable if its data is improperly accessed. This applies to portable data tools such as cell phones, laptops, or hard drives. There have been several large data breaches caused by lost or stolen equipment, such as the theft of a Veterans Affairs employee’s laptop containing sensitive data for 26.5 million veterans, their spouses, and active-duty military. A recent survey revealed that one-quarter of employees have reported lost or stolen smartphones, and 81% of companies have reported losing laptops with confidential data. There are steps you can take to limit the damage done should equipment with sensitive information fall into the wrong hands.

Secure Data

Any electronic equipment connected to the internet is at risk from viruses, hacks, or ransomware. A virus on a network-connected device could potentially destroy the general system, so anti-virus and security software should be required on all devices. Password-protected entry should also be required. Consider using a multifactor authentication (MFA) process to enhance device security. Also, limit employees’ ability to put confidential information on mobile devices—human resources staff, for example, do not need remote access to such data. Employers should have specific protocols for authorizing confidential data on mobile devices, and wireless devices should not access confidential information off the network.

Centralize desktop applications in a secure data center, so only one location needs to be secured. When giving telecommuters and other employees remote access, deploy technology that automatically locks out a device if a virus or breach occurs, so one employee’s computer problem does not impact the entire company.

Disposing of Electronics

A comprehensive information security policy should cover properly disposing of out-of-date devices. There are three basic steps to safely and securely dispose of computers, printers, or other equipment that contain drives with data:

What This Means for Counties

Counties should minimize the risk of harm from data loss and data falling into the wrong hands by taking security measures such as keeping track of all mobile devices, limiting remote access, and disposing of equipment properly. When an employee who was issued a smartphone or laptop returns it or when a device is being replaced, all data should be stripped from it. For more information, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.



PPEs for Illegal Marijuana Grow Sites

In November 2012, Colorado residents voted to legalize marijuana, leading to numerous legal marijuana grow operations opening throughout the state. These legal grows are regulated by and subject to state law; however, counties still encounter illegal grows that must be cleaned up and destroyed. These unregulated grows can pose health hazards to county employees tasked with their removal because unknown pesticides and animal repellents may be present on the plants, or mildew and mold may be present in poorly ventilated grow houses.

While some counties have access to hazmat teams to deal with these types of clean-ups, others rely on county employees, such as those on road and bridge crews, to clean up illegal grows. County employees tasked with cleaning up an illegal grow should use proper personal protection equipment (PPE) to protect them from exposure to unknown chemicals, hazardous mold, and mildew spores. All employees coming into contact with illegal grows should use proper PPE equipment. Should a county employee, especially a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holder, be tasked with clearing an illegal grow, any accidental contamination should be documented.

Environmental Hazard Assessment

An environmental hazard assessment should be made before clearing an illegal grow to determine what kinds of PPE are required. Recommended PPE and the potential hazards to consider are listed below:

Training

According to the CDPHE, employers are required to train each employee to whom they provide PPE to conduct their work activities. The following information must be included in this training:

What This Means for Counties

Illegal marijuana grows continue to be a problem, and Colorado counties should ensure that employees cleaning up these grows wear proper PPE. For more information, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

The Colorado Open Meetings Law (OML), part of the Colorado Sunshine Law, lays a set of ground rules for how public meetings must be conducted. The law was first passed in 1972 and later modified in 1996. According to the law, meetings of two or more members of any state or local public body, such as a county board, where public business is discussed or formal action is taken, must be open to the public.

The OML applies to more than just physical gatherings.  Phone calls, emails, or other electronic communications can also be considered meetings subject to the OML.  Furthermore, public notice of a meeting must be given at least 24 hours in advance.  However, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that “a meeting must be part of the policy-making process to be subject to the requirements of the OML.”  So mere attendance at another public body’s meeting does not necessarily trigger OML requirements.

There are a few exceptions to the open meetings and open records law (e.g., chance meetings, social gatherings, property matters; attorney conferences; negotiations with employee organizations; personnel; and student discipline). If a public body must discuss a confidential matter, an executive session may be called.

Executive Session

An executive session is a private meeting where confidential information is under discussion. Executive sessions must be recorded unless the session can be considered privileged attorney-client communication. If a document used in the executive session has both private and public information, the document may be subject to the open records law; however, private information may be redacted before making the document public.

Private information that is protected under various open records laws includes financial or payroll data, social security numbers, bank account information, personnel records, health and medical records, criminal investigation, some pending legal matters, and so forth. Consult your county attorney to determine if the topic qualifies for a privacy exemption to the open records law.

What This Means for Counties

County board meetings and other meetings of governing boards are subject to the open meetings act. If private information as defined by the Colorado Open Meetings Act and the Colorado Open Records Law is under discussion, use an executive session to discuss the matter. Be sure to stress the importance of confidentiality concerning issues discussed in an executive session, as any leak of confidential information can open the board to liability.

For more information about the requirements for open meetings and executive sessions, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Emergency first aid kits are designed to treat injuries or sudden illnesses before emergency medical care is available. Kits should be stored in an easily accessible location and comply with the minimum requirements described by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). A general-use first aid kit should include the following:

Customize First Aid Kits

First aid kits can and should be customized for specific workplace hazards. Use the following colors to indicate what kind of emergency supplies each kit contains: red for burns, blue for antiseptics, and yellow for bandages. Place the kits in a highly visible area and ensure that all employees know where they are located and which color-coded kit is for a particular emergency.

Types of First Aid Kits

Evaluate hazards specific to your workplace to determine what kit and container you need. ANSI/ISEA Z308. 1-2021 sets minimum requirements for first aid kits based on the assortment of items, the quantity of items, the number of people the kit is expected to serve, the complexity of the environment, and the level of site hazards. Class A kits provide products for common workplace injuries (e.g., major/minor wounds, minor burns, eye injuries). A Class B kit includes all of the components of the Class A kit in larger quantities and with the addition of a splint and a tourniquet.

The organization also categorizes first aid kit containers as follows: 

Maintaining First Aid Kits

OSHA recommends that a specific person be assigned responsibility for choosing and maintaining first aid kits. This includes choosing the type and amount of first aid supplies needed for a specific job site. Kits should be inspected and restocked twice a month. 

What This Means for Counties

Medical emergencies can and do happen at work, and having a well-stocked first aid kit can help bridge the gap between an injury and emergency personnel’s arrival. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are tax-advantaged accounts used to pay for certain qualified medical expenses such as co-pays, prescriptions, dental, and vision costs. Employers can offer any or all of these accounts as a benefit to offset healthcare costs. These accounts use pre-tax dollars and must adhere to specific rules and limits set by the IRS. The table below provides a general overview of how these accounts differ:

What This Means for Counties

Each type of account offers benefits depending on your health insurance needs. Understanding the differences can help you determine which account or combination of accounts is the best fit for your situation. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.