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Legislative Session Wrap Up

    2016 Colorado Legislative Session Wrap-up Summary


                The Second Regular Session of the Colorado General Assembly adjourned on May 11, 2016 with a couple of Bills sent to Governor Hickenlooper that will significantly affect HR Professionals. 

    Pregnancy Accommodation Bill expected to be signed by Governor Hicklenlooper

    A significant bill affecting HR Professionals moved quickly through the Colorado Legislature in the final weeks of the Legislative Session and is expected to be signed by Governor Hickenlooper.  House Bill 16-1438 makes it an unfair employment practice if employers fail to provide reasonable accommodations of the job to an applicant for employment or an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy or the physical recovery from childbirth, if the applicant or employee requests the reasonable accommodation.  Employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against an employee (or applicant) that requests or uses a reasonable accommodation.  In addition, employers will be required to engage in timely, good-faith, and interactive process with the employee if she requests an accommodation. 

    The Bill provides examples of “reasonable accommodations” including more frequent or longer break periods, lifting limitations, light duty, if available, and job restructuring.  The Bill provides an exception to an employer from providing reasonable accommodation to the employee or applicant if the accommodation would impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business.  “Undue Hardship” for an employer is an action requiring significant difficulty or expense to the employer.  Factors considered in determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship include the cost of an accommodation, the employer’s financial resources, the size of the employer’s business, and the accommodation’s effect on expenses and resources or on the employer’s operations. 

    If Governor Hickenlooper signs this Bill, it will take effect on August 10, 2016.  Additional information regarding the Bill can be found on the Colorado General Assembly website at the following link.   

    Private Sector Employees Inspection of Personnel Files Bill Passes – Sent to Governor

                 A Bill allowing private sector current and former employees to inspect their personnel files was sent to the Governor for signing.  House Bill 16-1432 would allow an employee at least annually to request that his or her employer permit them to inspect and obtain a copy of their personnel file at a time convenient to both the employer and the employee.  In addition, a former employee would be allowed to make one inspection of his or her personnel file after termination of employment.  The Bill applies to private employers, except for financial institutions chartered and supervised under state or federal law.

                The Bill provides a couple of rights to employers, including the ability to restrict the employee or former employee’s access to files to be only in the presence of a person responsible for managing personnel data for the employer or a person designated by the employer.  The employer may also require that the employee or former employee pay for the reasonable cost of copying the documents. 

                 As defined by the statue, “personnel file” includes records that are maintained by the employer and used or have been used to determine an employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, or employment termination or other disciplinary action.  “Personnel file” would not include documents required to be placed in a separate file, an active criminal investigation, an active disciplinary investigation by the employer, or an active investigation by a regulatory agency.  Finally, employees or former employees would not have access to information in a document that identifies any person who made a confidential accusation, as determined by the employer, against the employee requesting their personnel file.

                If Governor Hickenlooper signs this Bill, it will take effect on January 1, 2017.  Additional information regarding the Bill can be found on the Colorado General Assembly website at the following link.      

    “Ban the Box” – Dies in the Senate

    House Bill 16-1388, informally known as “Ban the Box,” did not pass this legislative session.  As introduced, the Bill would have prohibited employers from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history until the candidate has been notified that he or she has been selected for an interview, or if there is not an interview, then until after a conditional offer of employment is made to the candidate.  “Ban the Box” quickly passed through the Colorado House of Representatives, but the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs “postponed indefinitely” the Bill in early May.

    Although “Ban the Box” did not pass this Legislative Session, it will likely be introduced in future Legislative Sessions.  “Ban the Box” legislation has gained momentum in several states and will likely continue to be raised and promoted in Colorado.  

    Next Session

                With the completion of the Second Regular Session, the Colorado General Assembly passed significant Bills that await Governor Hickenlooper’s consideration and signature.  The First Regular Session of the 71st General Assembly will convene on January 11, 2017.