Many Colorado employers have programs that allow their employees to essentially donate their accrued paid time off (PTO), including sick leave and vacation days, to co-workers who are experiencing health or family emergencies or serious medical issues. Not only do these leave-donation programs promote the ultimate level of goodwill amongst coworkers, they also help to maintain productivity in the workplace, while allowing employers to allow their employees during times when health or other emergencies occur with the time off that they need.
However, it is important to remember that when an employee utilizes donated leave, they are still required to perform the fundamental functions of their job. This is one of the many reasons why it is crucial to know your employment rights, and often crucial to consult with a Colorado employment attorney who can help you to maintain your employment, especially when a medical or family emergency has come up. Donated time off does not “reserve” your position with a company, nor does it protect you under any state or federal laws while you are away from the workplace.
Donated Leave vs. FMLA
While donated leave is essentially permission to take time off of work, there is only one type of leave that provides employees withfederal protections from being fired. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take time off of work for medical reasons and protects employees from being fired from their jobs under federal laws. When an employee uses donated leave, however, they are not protected under the same laws. Colorado is an employment-at-will state, which means that any employee can be fired for any reason, with the exception of those rights that are protected under state and federal laws.
What You Can Do To Secure Your Position
If you are considering taking time off of work because you have been offered donated leave, you should speak to your employer about your position and what is expected while you are away from the workplace. Be part of ensuring that your work duties and responsibilities are covered by other employees while you are on leave, whether that means training another employee or creating a list of your duties and helping to assign them to other employees who know how to handle them. Even if you do all of this, an at-will employer can still terminate your position for essentially any reason they come up with.
When any kind of emergency comes up, there may not always be time to ensure that your job responsibilities are taken care of before you take the time off that you are donated by coworkers. There is time, however, to make a phone call to an experienced Colorado employment law attorney who can help you understand your rights while you are using your donated time off. It only takes a few minutes to consult with an attorney, and it can be the crucial factor that ensures you keep your job when you are ready to come back to work. You can contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at our Denver office at (303) 991-3075.