Colorado Work Policies: Adapting How We Work

Many of the employee benefits and protections we’ve come to recognize — paid time off, retirement plans, overtime pay, policies on discrimination — were created following the Great Depression. Colorado work policies of the past were based on the industrial workplace model prevalent at the time. This resulted in a social contract in which employers provided decent and stable income and benefits along with opportunities for career advancement in return for workers’ loyalty and productivity.

However, that model is no longer the norm. Growth in the gig economy and increased use of alternative work arrangements — expected to continue due to automation — mean many workers are classified as “independent contractors,” not employees, leaving them uncovered by basic workplace protections and benefits. Even still, the delineation of “employee” doesn’t guarantee important benefits, as employers can decide to offer few or none at all. Because of these factors, a large number of workers, many of them in low-wage jobs, don’t have access to important benefits.

Colorado Work Policies Must Change

Despite the addition of new jobs and a low unemployment rate, Colorado workers need more of a safety net to advance economically. Throughout the Colorado work policies section of our Guide to Economic Mobility, we highlight some important benefits and protections Colorado can implement to adapt with the changing nature of work in our state and country.

This section of the guide is broken into four subsections:

  • Making Pay Work: The need for pay equity, minimum wage, overtime, and EITC expansion
  • Making Work Pay: Building a balance with paid leave, dependent care, and flexibility
  • Rejoining the Workforce: Bringing those with criminal histories back to work
  • Retirement Ready: Preparing Colorado workers for the next step

Each section has specific recommendations Colorado should consider to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Updating Colorado work policies will benefit low- and middle-income families across the state, thanks to increased pay, inclusive benefits, better access to jobs, and helpful planning for the future. To see all of our recommendations, please read the work policies section of the Guide to Economic Mobility in Colorado.