Friday, May 17th, 2019
On Thursday, May 16th, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law H.B. 1276, which reclassifies the failure to pay employee wages as "theft." The new law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020, imposes criminal penalties if an employer willfully refuses to pay wages or compensation, or intentionally and falsely denies the amount or validity of a wage claim.
Under the existing law, an employer faces an unclassified misdemeanor charge if found guilty, plus a fine for failure to pay wages or failure to pay the minimum wage. Under the new law, failure to pay employee wages constitutes theft and is either a petty offense, misdemeanor, or felony depending on the amount of wages that are unpaid. The employer will face a potential felony charges when the amount of unpaid wages is over $2,000.
This law uses the same standards as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act when defining "employer", including migratory field labor contractors and crew leaders. This act will exempt state agencies and entities, cities, counties, municipal corporations, quasi-municipal corporations, school districts, and irrigation, reservoir, and drainage conservation companies.
The new wage statute is aiming to recognize labor as "a thing of value" that can be subject to theft as a way to aid law enforcement in combating labor trafficking. The H.B. 1267 notes that studies have found wage theft costs employees in Colorado millions of dollars in wages and benefits each year and the state of Colorado tens of millions in revenue.
As more state governments focus on increasing protections for workers, employers with multi-state operations are facing increased challenges in monitoring wage and labor compliance for their workforces.
How can we help?
In time and attendance, accuracy is everything. Inaccurate payroll can result in lost trust with employees, problems with human resources, and even wage and labor penalties. TimeClock Plus provides you the tools and technology needed to pay your people accurately and on time while maintaining FLSA compliance. Our flexible licensing model allows you to adjust to your changing circumstances and to quickly react to changing legislation. For more than 30 years, we have served one purpose - to protect our customers, our team, and all of those impacted by our business. If you believe your organization may be impacted by the Colorado Wage Theft Statute, contact one of our Solutions Consultants and see how we can help you.
Article By: Adrian C. Elmslie, Barbara B. Johnston QC, and Benjamin R Young