Skip to content

Colorado State Holidays: Essential Guide

9 min read

As an employer in the Centennial state, it is important to be aware of all Colorado state holidays and the leave and labor laws that regulate employee time off and holiday pay. By understanding your obligations as an employer, you can ensure that your employees are treated fairly and that your business complies with the law.

In this post, we will review all of Colorado’s state holidays and explain the leave and labor laws that regulate employee time off and holiday pay in the state. We will also share tips to help employers ensure they are complying with Colorado state holiday laws and treating their employees fairly.

PTO free demo

Colorado Federal Holidays

Much like most states in the US including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Florida, Colorado observes most US federal holidays each year.

In fact, Colorado observes 10 of the 11 federal holidays in the United States:

  • New Year’s Day* (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
  • Presidents’ Day / Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day* (Last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth (June 19)
  • Independence Day* (July 4)
  • Labor Day* (First Monday in September)
  • Veterans’ Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day* (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day* (December 25)

*Major federal holidays.

Most government offices are closed on federal and state holidays, but some essential services, such as emergency services and public transportation, may remain open. Private businesses can choose to be open or closed on federal holidays. Some businesses, such as restaurants and retail stores, may be open on federal holidays, while others, such as banks and offices, may be closed.

The only federal holiday that Colorado does not observe is Columbus Day. Instead, the state celebrates Frances Xavier Cabrini Day. More on this below.

Colorado State Holidays

Aside from the federal holidays above, the state observes two additional Colorado state holidays: Cesar Chavez Day and Frances Xavier Cabrini Day.

Here’s everything you need to know about the history of these two important dates on the Colorado state holiday calendar.

Cesar Chavez Day

A federal commemorative holiday in the United States that celebrates the birthday and legacy of César Estrada Chávez, a labor leader and civil rights activist who dedicated his life to improving the lives of farmworkers. Cesar Chavez Day is also an optional state holiday in Colorado. This means that state government offices and schools may be closed, but businesses are not required to close.

Chavez is most famous for founding the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1962, which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to form the United Farm Workers (UFW). The UFW led a series of strikes and boycotts to demand better wages, working conditions, and benefits for farmworkers. Chavez also promoted nonviolence and civil disobedience as tactics for social change.

Chavez’s efforts led to significant improvements in the lives of farmworkers. In 1975, the UFW negotiated a contract with grape growers that included higher wages, improved working conditions, and health benefits. Chavez also helped to pass the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which gave farmworkers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Chavez died in 1993, but his legacy continues to inspire people around the world. In Colorado, this day is an opportunity to celebrate his accomplishments and to continue his fight for social justice.

Frances Xavier Cabrini Day

Frances Xavier Cabrini Day is a Colorado state holiday that is observed annually on the first Monday in October. It honors Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants.

Cabrini was born in Italy in 1850 and immigrated to the United States in 1889. She dedicated her life to helping the poor and sick, especially immigrants. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a religious order that served immigrants and other marginalized groups.

Cabrini visited Colorado several times in the early 1900s. In 1902, she founded the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver. She also founded a summer camp for children near Golden, Colorado. Today, Golden is the home of the Mother Cabrini Shrine, a complex of monuments and chapels that are dedicated to her life and work.

The Colorado legislature created Frances Xavier Cabrini Day in 2020, replacing Columbus Day as a state holiday. This was a significant step, as Colorado is the first state in the nation to recognize a woman with a paid state holiday.

Ultimately, Cabrini Day is a day to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to Colorado and the United States. It is also a day to reflect on Cabrini’s legacy of compassion and service.

Leave and Labor Laws in Colorado

Let’s take a look now at all the leave and labor laws that Colorado employers need to consider when they create their leave policies.

Holiday Pay for Colorado State Holidays

State and private employees have different rights when it comes to holiday pay for Colorado state holidays.

Colorado state employees are entitled to 10 paid state holidays each year, including New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

If a state employer requires an employee to work on a state holiday, they must pay them overtime for all hours worked. They must calculate this overtime pay at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Colorado private employees are not automatically entitled to paid time off for Colorado state holidays. However, many private employers choose to offer it. Whether or not a private employee is entitled to time off or holiday pay for a state holiday ultimately depends on the employer’s leave policy.

Vacation Leave

Colorado law does not require employers to provide paid vacation leave to their employees. However, many employers do offer paid vacation leave as a benefit. Many private employers also offer additional leave benefits including unpaid time off, unlimited PTO, personal time off, floating holidays, VTO, and flexible time off. Employers in Colorado are also generally free to design their own vacation accrual, vacation payout, and PTO carry-over systems.

If an employer does offer paid vacation leave, they must comply with the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). The HFWA requires employers to provide their employees with accrued paid sick leave and public health emergency leave.

Under the requirements of the HFWA, employers do not have to provide accrued paid vacation leave. However, if they do, employees must accrue vacation leave at the same rate as sick leave and public health emergency leave. This means that employees must accrue at least one hour of vacation leave for every 30 hours worked.

Employers must also pay out accrued vacation leave to employees who leave the company. Employees must be paid out for all accrued vacation leave that they have earned, but have not yet used.

Family and Medical Leave

Colorado has its own family and medical leave law known as the Colorado Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA). There are some key differences between the CFMLA and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

  • Eligibility. The CFMLA has a slightly shorter eligibility requirement than the FMLA. To be eligible for CFMLA leave, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, while the FMLA requires employees to have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
  • Covered reasons. The CFMLA also covers some additional reasons for leave that are not covered by the FMLA. For example, the CFMLA covers leave to care for a seriously ill parent-in-law, while the FMLA does not.
  • Return to work. The CFMLA also includes stronger protections for employees who take leave. For example, the CFMLA requires employers to reinstate employees to their same or equivalent position when they return from leave, while the FMLA only requires employers to reinstate employees to a comparable position.

Overall, the CFMLA provides more generous benefits to eligible employees than the FMLA.

Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA)

The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) is a law that guarantees paid sick leave and public health emergency leave to employees in Colorado.

Under the HFWA, employees can accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 48 hours per year.

Employees can use paid sick leave to:

  • Care for themselves or a family member who is ill or injured.
  • Attend a medical or dental appointment for themselves or a family member.
  • Obtain preventive care for themselves or a family member.
  • Take time off for domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • Take time off for bereavement.

Employees are also entitled to accrue up to 80 hours of public health emergency leave per public health emergency.

Employees can use public health emergency leave to:

  • Be quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.
  • Care for a family member who is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.
  • Care for a child whose school or childcare facility is closed due to a public health emergency.
  • Take time off from work due to a public health emergency.

All employees who work for a Colorado employer are eligible for paid sick leave and public health emergency leave under the HFWA, regardless of the employer’s size or industry. There are a few exceptions, however, such as federal employees and some railroad employees.

Colorado Overtime Pay Act (COPA)

The Colorado Overtime Pay Act (COPA) regulates overtime pay for employees in Colorado. Under the COPA, employers must pay their employees overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week. They must calculate overtime pay at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

COPA applies to most employees in Colorado, including salaried employees, hourly employees, and part-time employees. There are some exemptions to COPA, such as executives, administrators, and professional employees.

To be eligible for overtime pay under COPA, an employee must work more than 40 hours a week. The 40-hour workweek can be averaged over a two-week period, but employees must still be paid overtime pay for any week in which they work more than 40 hours.

Employers are required to offer overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a week, regardless of whether the employee is on a salary or hourly wage. Overtime pay must be paid out on the next regular payday after the employee works the overtime hours.

Wage Protection Rules

The Colorado Wage Protection Rules require employers to pay their employees’ wages in a timely manner and to provide them with accurate pay statements.

In addition, the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA) allows employees to file a claim with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) if they believe that their employer has violated any of the Colorado wage and hour laws.

Discrimination and Harassment Laws

Finally, employers should also be aware of the following laws that protect employees from discrimination and harassment:

  • Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). The CADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship status, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
  • Colorado Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA). The FEPA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report discrimination or who participate in an investigation into discrimination.
  • Colorado Sexual Harassment in Employment Act (CHEA). The CHEA prohibits employers from engaging in sexual harassment of their employees.

Tips to Ensure Compliance with Colorado State Holiday Laws

Compliance with Colorado state holiday laws is crucial for businesses to maintain a positive work environment and adhere to legal requirements.

Here are some tips to ensure compliance with Colorado state holiday laws:

  • Familiarize yourself with state laws. Thoroughly review the Colorado state labor laws and holiday regulations, including employee rights, pay requirements, and any specific provisions regarding holiday observance.
  • Review your company’s leave policy. Make sure that your leave policy complies with all applicable Colorado state laws and regulations.
  • Communicate your leave policy to your employees. Make sure that your employees know what their rights are under your leave policy and how to request time off. This will help to avoid confusion and disputes.
  • Track employee leave time. Create a leave management system to keep track of the amount of paid time off that each employee has accrued and has used. This will help you to ensure that employees are not taking more time off than they have accrued.
  • Pay employees correctly for working on state holidays. Whether or not you must pay your employees additional pay for working on a state holiday depends on a number of factors. This includes the type of work they are performing and whether or not they are salaried or non-exempt. Make sure you are clear about your obligations as an employer.
  • Accommodate religious observances. Respect employees’ religious beliefs and provide reasonable accommodations for their religious observances during holidays.
  • Maintain a respectful work environment. Foster a workplace culture that respects and values diversity, acknowledging the various cultural and religious backgrounds of employees during holiday seasons.

free trial banner

Streamline Time Off Management with Factorial

Factorial’s comprehensive HR software provides an efficient solution for managing time off and ensuring compliance with Colorado state holiday laws. With its user-friendly interface and robust features, Factorial simplifies the process of tracking and managing employee time off, fostering a productive and compliant work environment.

Factorial’s time off management software includes a number of features that can help employers manage Colorado state holidays.

These features include:

  • Leave management. Factorial allows employers to create and manage all Colorado state holidays through a centralized leave management system. Employers can also set custom rules for each holiday. For example, you can define which days employees must work and how much you will pay them if they do work.
  • PTO accruals. Factorial automatically accrues paid time off for employees based on the company’s leave policy. This includes accruals for Colorado state holidays.
  • Time off requests. Employees can easily submit all types of time off requests through Factorial’s self-service portal. Managers can then review and approve or deny requests.
  • Leave reporting. Factorial generates a variety of reports that can help employers track employee time off usage and compliance with Colorado state holiday laws.

Additional benefits of Factorial’s time off management software include:

  • Reduced administrative burden. Factorial automates many of the tasks associated with time off management.
  • Improved compliance. Factorial’s software helps employers comply with all applicable Colorado state holiday laws.
  • Increased employee satisfaction. Factorial’s software makes it easy for employees to request time off and view their leave balances. This can help to improve employee morale and productivity.

Ultimately, by using Factorial’s time off management software, employers can streamline the process of managing Colorado state holidays and ensure that their employees are able to take the time they need while maintaining business productivity.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

Related posts