Colorado Leave and Job Protection for Volunteer Workers

Colorado SAR team volunteers, and other emergency service volunteers, freely give their time away from work to respond to emergencies. Since 2008, Colorado law has offered some job protection to those volunteers, when:

  1. The volunteer has responded, for no more than 15 days annually, as part of an organization that has been registered as a "qualified volunteer organization" by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

    The Application For Enrollment on the Qualified Volunteer Organization List Pursuant to House Bill 08-1097 - Colorado Revised Statutes §24-32-2202 et seq. form can be found here:

    http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Document_C&childpagename=DOLA-Main%2FDocument_C%2FCBONAddLinkView&cid=1251596867599&pagename=CBONWrapper



  2. The "qualified volunteer organization" has an MOU with a sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency.


  3. The employee is not deemed essential by the employer (note: no employer is required to grant leave to more than 20% of his employees at any one time).


  4. The volunteer submits a "Certification of Volunteer Service".

    The Certification of Volunteer Service in a Disaster Emergency Pursuant to House Bill 08-1097 - Colorado Revised Statutes §24-32-2202 et seq. form can be found here:

    http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Document_C&childpagename=DOLA-Main%2FDocument_C%2FCBONAddLinkView&cid=1251596867657&pagename=CBONWrapper .

Do not be confused because these forms and statutes talk about responding to a "disaster." That general term is used because the 2008 law became part of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act of 1992 and is in that portion of the Colorado Revised Statutes, along with the definition of search and rescue (CRS 24-32-2103) and the assignment of SAR responsibility to the county sheriff (CRS 24-32-2107.10(a)).

You can determine if your SAR unit is registered, at http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DOLA-Main/CBON/1251616335517

Full details are found at http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DOLA-Main/CBON/1251596866302

The Colorado Revised Statutes in reference to this are:

24-32-2222 - County sheriff - local government - local emergency planning committee - memorandum of understanding with volunteer organizations

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2222

(1) Any county sheriff, the director of any local government, any local emergency planning committee, or any state agency may develop and enter into a memorandum of understanding with one or more volunteer organizations to assist the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency in providing services in the event of a disaster.

(2) A memorandum of understanding between a county sheriff, a local government, a local emergency planning committee, or a state agency and a volunteer organization may include the following information:

(a) The circumstances under which the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency may request the services of the volunteer organization in a disaster;

(b) The circumstances under which the volunteer organization may accept or refuse the request for assistance by the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency in a disaster;

(c) The party that will be responsible for any costs incurred by the volunteer organization in the course of assisting the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency in a disaster;

(d) The specific training or certification required for volunteers who are members of the volunteer organization to be authorized to assist the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency in a disaster;

(e) The duration of the memorandum of understanding;

(f) Provisions for amending the memorandum of understanding; and

(g) Any other information deemed necessary by the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency or by the volunteer organization.

(3) If national or statewide training and certification standards exist for a certain organization or certain type of volunteer, the existing standards shall be used in a memorandum of understanding created pursuant to this section.

(4) The most current version of the state of Colorado intergovernmental agreement for emergency management may be used as the memorandum of understanding pursuant to this section.

HISTORY: Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 611, § 4, effective August 5.

24-32-2223 - Qualified volunteer organization list - creation - nomination of organizations

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2223

(1) Any volunteer who is associated with a qualified volunteer organization pursuant to this section may be eligible to receive the protections and benefits specified in this part 22 and in article 10 of this title. The executive director of the department or the executive director's designee shall create and maintain a list of volunteer organizations that shall be known as the "qualified volunteer organization list".

(2) Any county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency may nominate a volunteer organization with which it enters into a memorandum of understanding pursuant to section 24-32-2222 to be included on the qualified volunteer organization list created and maintained pursuant to subsection (1) of this section.

HISTORY: Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 612, § 4, effective August 5.

24-32-2224 - Volunteers - provision of emergency services - protections - benefits

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2224

(1) A volunteer shall be allowed to receive the benefits and protections specified in this part 22 and pursuant to article 10 of this title if the volunteer is determined to be a qualified volunteer pursuant to this section. A volunteer shall be deemed a qualified volunteer if:

(a) The volunteer is a member of a volunteer organization that enters into a memorandum of understanding with a county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency pursuant to section 24-32-2222

(b) The volunteer organization of which the volunteer is a member is included on the qualified volunteer organization list created and maintained by the department pursuant to section 24-32-2223

(c) The volunteer is called to service through the volunteer organization under the authority of the county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency to volunteer in a disaster; and

(d) The volunteer receives the appropriate verification pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

(2) The executive director of the department or the executive director's designee shall create a system whereby a volunteer may obtain proof to provide to his or her employer that specifies:

(a) The volunteer was called to service by a volunteer organization for the purpose of assisting in a disaster;

(b) The volunteer reported for service and performed the activities required of him or her by the volunteer organization; and

(c) The number of days of service that the volunteer provided.

HISTORY: Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 612, § 4, effective August 5.

24-32-2225 - Qualified volunteers - leave of absence - public employees

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2225

(1) Any qualified volunteer who is an officer or employee of the state or of any political subdivision, municipal corporation, or other public agency of the state and who is called into service by a volunteer organization is entitled to a leave of absence from the qualified volunteer's employment for the time when the qualified volunteer is serving, without loss of pay, seniority, status, efficiency rating, vacation, sick leave, or other benefits. The leave without loss of pay that is allowed pursuant to this section shall not exceed a total of fifteen work days in any calendar year; except that such leave without loss of pay shall be allowed only if the required volunteer service is satisfactorily performed, which shall be presumed unless the contrary is established.

(2) The leave allowed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall be allowed only if the qualified volunteer returns to his or her public position the next scheduled work day after being relieved from emergency volunteer service; except that leave shall be allowed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section if the employee is unable to return to work due to injury or circumstances beyond the employee's control and the employee notifies the employer as soon as practicable, but prior to the next scheduled work day.

(3) A state agency or any political subdivision, municipal corporation, or other public agency of the state may hire a temporary employee to fill a vacancy created by a leave of absence allowed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section.

(4) Upon returning from a leave of absence allowed pursuant to this section, a qualified volunteer is entitled to return to the same position and classification held by the qualified volunteer before the leave of absence for the emergency volunteer service or to the position, including the geographic location of the position, and classification that the qualified volunteer would have been entitled to if the qualified volunteer did not take a leave of absence for the emergency volunteer service.

(5) A qualified volunteer who is an officer or employee of the state or of any political subdivision, municipal corporation, or other public agency of the state, receiving a leave of absence pursuant to this section, and having rights in any state, municipal, or other public pension, retirement, or relief system shall retain all of the rights accrued up to the time of taking the leave and shall have all rights subsequently accruing under such system as if the qualified volunteer did not take the leave. Any increase in the amount of money benefits accruing with respect to the time of the leave is dependent upon the payment of any contributions or assessments, and the right to the increase is dependent upon the payment of contributions or assessments within a reasonable time after the termination of the leave and upon such terms as the authorities in charge of the system may prescribe.

(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, an employer shall not be required to provide leave pursuant to this section to more than twenty percent of the employer's employees on any work day.

(7) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, an employer shall not be required to allow leave pursuant to this section for any employee designated as an essential employee. For the purposes of this subsection (7), "essential employee" means an employee who the employer deems to be essential to the operation of the employer's daily enterprise and whose absence would likely cause the employer to suffer economic injury.

HISTORY: Source:. L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 613, § 4, effective August 5.L. 2009: (2) amended, (HB 09-1315), ch. 312, p. 1693, § 1, effective August 5.

24-32-2226 - Qualified volunteers - leave of absence - private employees

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2226

(1) Any qualified volunteer who is employed by a private employer and who is called into service by a volunteer organization for a disaster is entitled to a leave of absence from the qualified volunteer's employment, other than employment of a temporary nature, for the time when the qualified volunteer is serving. The leave allowed for a qualified volunteer pursuant to this section shall not exceed a total of fifteen work days in any calendar year, and the leave shall be allowed only if the volunteer is called into service for a disaster and provides proof that he or she is a qualified volunteer pursuant to section 24-32-2224 (2).

(2) The leave of absence allowed pursuant to this section shall be construed as an absence with leave and without pay and shall not affect the qualified volunteer's rights to vacation, sick leave, bonus, advancement, or other employment benefits or advantages relating to and normally to be expected for the qualified volunteer's particular employment.

(3) The leave of absence pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall be allowed only if the qualified volunteer returns to his or her employment as soon as practicable after being relieved from emergency volunteer service.

(4) The employer of a qualified volunteer who takes a leave of absence from employment to engage in emergency volunteer service shall, upon the qualified volunteer's completion of the emergency volunteer service, restore the qualified volunteer to the position the volunteer held prior to the leave of absence or to a similar position.

(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, an employer shall not be required to provide leave pursuant to this section to more than twenty percent of the employer's employees on any work day.

(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, an employer shall not be required to allow leave pursuant to this section for any employee designated as an essential employee. For the purposes of this subsection (6), "essential employee" means an employee who the employer deems to be essential to the operation of the employer's daily enterprise, whose absence would likely cause the employer to suffer economic injury, or whose duties include assisting in disaster recovery for the employer.

HISTORY: Source:. L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 614, § 4, effective August 5.L. 2009: (1) amended, (SB 09-292), ch. 369, p. 1968, § 76, effective August 5.

24-32-2227 - Procedures

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2227

(1) The department shall create procedures for the administration of this part 22. The procedures shall include, but need not be limited to, the following:

(a) A process for a county sheriff, local government, local emergency planning committee, or state agency to nominate a volunteer organization to be included on the qualified volunteer organization list pursuant to section 24-32-2223 (2); and

(b) A process to verify that a qualified volunteer provided volunteer services during a disaster and a method to allow the volunteer to provide proof of such service to his or her employer pursuant to section 24-32-2224 (2).

HISTORY: Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 615, § 4, effective August 5.

24-32-2228 - Interpretation

Link to C.R.S. 24-32-2228

(1) Nothing in this part 22 shall be construed to amend, suspend, supercede, or otherwise modify the protections provided to volunteer firefighters pursuant to section 31-30-1131, C.R.S.

(2) Nothing in this part 22 shall be construed to affect any preexisting intergovernmental agreement regarding emergency management or any other issue.

HISTORY: Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 615, § 4, effective August 5.