Colorado Labor Laws

The minimum wage in 2020 is $12 per hour.

Employees shall be paid time and one-half of the regular rate of pay for any work in excess of: (1) forty hours per workweek; (2) twelve hours per workday, or (3) twelve consecutive hours without regard to the starting and ending time of the workday (excluding duty free meal periods), whichever calculation results in the greater payment of wages.

A workweek is defined as any consecutive seven-day period starting with the same calendar day and hour each week. A workweek is a fixed and recurring period of 168 hours, seven consecutive twenty-four hour periods, and is typically established by the employer. Hours worked in two or more workweeks shall not be averaged for computation of overtime.

The tipped minimum wage in 2020 is $8.98 per hour.

  1. Effective January 1, 2020, the applicable minimum wage is $12.00 and the tipped minimum wage is $12.00 – $3.02 = $8.98.
  2. The employee’s tips make up the difference between the tipped minimum wage of $8.98 and the full minimum wage of $12.00.
  3. No other payments occurred during the pay period that would have to be included in the regular rate (e.g., non-discretionary bonuses, commissions, etc.). Note that tips are not included in the regular rate for overtime calculation purposes.
  4. The employee works 50-hours in the workweek, with 10 hours of overtime owed under the 40-hour overtime criterion; no work in excess of the 12-hour overtime criteria occurred.
  5. The rate for overtime hours is based upon the full minimum wage of $12.00, not $8.98.

Example : Straight time earnings for all hours worked, half-time OT

  • $12.00 x 50 = $600.00 (straight-time earnings for all hours)
  • $12.00 x .5 x 10 (OT half-time premium multiplied by number of OT hours) = $60.00
  • $600.00 + $60.00 = $660.00 (total owed before applying any tip credit)
  • $3.02 x 50 = $151.00 (tip credit which the employer may apply)
  • Total owed by the employer to the employee = $660.00 – $151.00 = $509.00

Colorado wage law (C.R.S. 8-4-103(6), updated Aug. 2, 2019) prohibits an employer from a claim to, right of ownership in, or control over an employee’s gratuities (tips). However, employers may require employees to share or allocate gratuities on a pre-established basis with other employees so long as the employer notifies each patron in writing. Such written notification includes notice on a menu, a table tent or receipt.

Under the COMPS Order, if the employer requires tipped employees to share their tips with other employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips (such as management or food preparers), the tip credit towards minimum wage is nullified.

As C.R.S. 8-4-103(6) prohibits an employer from a claim to, right of ownership in, or control over an employee’s gratuities (tips), deductions of credit card processing fees from an employee’s gratuities are impermissible. Similarly, as C.R.S 8-4-105 prohibits deductions from wages except in specific circumstances, deductions from an employee’s wages for credit card processing fees are impermissible. Further, under the COMPS Order such deductions nullify the allowable tip credits toward the minimum wage.

Employees shall be entitled to an uninterrupted and duty-free meal period of at least a 30-minute duration when the shift exceeds five consecutive hours of work. Such meal periods, to the extent practical, shall be at least one hour after the start, and one hour before the end, of the shift. Employees must be completely relieved of all duties and permitted to pursue personal activities for a period to qualify as non-work, uncompensated time.

When the nature of the business activity or other circumstances make an uninterrupted meal period impractical, the employee shall be permitted to consume an on-duty meal while performing duties. Employees shall be permitted to fully consume a meal of choice on the job and be fully compensated for the on-duty meal period without any loss of time or compensation.

Every employer shall authorize and permit a compensated 10-minute rest period for each 4 hours of work, or major fractions thereof, for all employees, as follows:

             Work Hours                 Rest Periods Required
2 or fewer0
Over 2, and up to 61
Over 6, and up to 102
Over 10, and up to 143
Over 14, and up to 184
Over 18, and up to 225
Over 226

To the extent practical, rest periods shall be in the middle of each 4-hour work period. It is not necessary that the employee leave the premises for a rest period.

The reasonable cost or fair market value of meals provided to the employee, may be used as part of the minimum hourly wage. No profits to the employer may be included in the reasonable cost or fair market value of such meals furnished. Employee acceptance of a meal must be voluntary and uncoerced. 

For employees and employers covered by the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order (“COMPS Order”) #36 the following applies:

  • Where wearing a particular uniform or special apparel is a condition of employment, the employer shall pay the cost of purchases, maintenance, and cleaning of the uniforms or special apparel, with the following exceptions:
    • if the uniform furnished by the employer is plain and washable, and does not need or require special care such as ironing, dry cleaning, pressing, etc., the employer need not maintain or pay for cleaning; and
    • clothing that is ordinary, plain, and washable that is prescribed as a uniform need not be furnished by the employer unless a special color, make, pattern, logo, or material is required.
  • The cost of ordinary wear and tear of a uniform or special apparel shall not be deducted from an employee’s wages.
  • As of March 16, 2020, employers may no longer require a uniform deposit as security for the return of a uniform furnished to an employee.

Employment Law Firms

Towards Justice

Towards Justice is a nonprofit law firm that seeks to advance economic justice through impact litigation, strategic policy advocacy, and capacity building. We were founded in response to the high volume of wage theft complaints that were not being addressed in Colorado, but quickly broadened our scope to take on cases that dismantle the power imbalances that undermine the value of work and diminish worker rights.