What you need to know about paid family and medical leave passed by Colorado voters

Posted at 10:28 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 08:45:39-05

DENVER— Coloradans mailed in their ballots and took to the polls and their voice and vote passed proposition 118 by nearly 60 percent, according to the state election results.

Proposition 118 is a paid family and medical leave program. Colorado is the first state to pass the plan through a voter initiative.

April Kimbrough shared her struggle in a campaign ad pushing for the passing of the proposition.

“I saw his first breath; 118 means not missing his last,” Kimbrough said.

The mother lives paycheck to paycheck and her job doesn’t offer paid leave. It’s why she says she’s “ecstatic” voters agreed with her concerns and passed the ballot measure.

This summer, her 23-year-old son was diagnosed with a rare cancer.

“He was diagnosed with stage 4 renal medullary carcinoma,” Kimbrough said.

She says her requests for days off to help care for her son in Georgia were denied as she flew back and forth to help him through chemotherapy and navigate various appointments.

“Even though I had the capability to work from home it wasn’t allowed,” she said.

Her son is her only child and she’s been with him for every milestone, but since his diagnosis, at times she's felt helpless. Tears welled in her eyes as she described her pain.

“Stressful, very scary, very emotional, not knowing if going to visit your son one day will cost you your job the next day,” Kimbrough said.

Now that the proposition has passed a team will spend the next year hammering out the details.

“Right now we are entering the rule-making process, which means that we will finalize all those details, who will be paying into the program, how to classify who is exempt,” Olga Robak, a spokesperson for Colorado Families First and Yes on 118, said.

Proposition 118 creates a state-run paid family and medical leave program, which will provide 12 weeks of compensated time off for employees to have a child, receive medical treatment or care for a loved one.

The plan would offer between 60 and 90 percent wage replacement during the time off and will vary based on the employee's weekly income. Roback says people who make less money will see a more significant wage replacement.

“On average, this will cost a Coloradans $3.83 a week that is based on a median hourly wage of $21.28,” Robak said.

Coloradans can begin to benefit from the program in 2024 if they pay into it. Kimbrough will be one of an estimated 2.6 million Coloradans who will now have the choice to put their family first.

“I wish all of the states did it, but I‘m just happy and thankful that people will no longer have to split hairs and say do I spend time with my loved one or do I go to work?” Kimbrough said.