Subtitle: 
Colorado and federal government require employers to post several different notices regarding employee rights.

Both the federal government and state of Colorado require employers to post notices of certain employee rights and responsibilities.  When starting a business, employers need to ensure that they display all requisite employee notices, which vary depending on the nature of the business. This article outlines the potential notices that employers are required to display.  Notices must be posted in a well-lit area that is easily accessible and frequently visited by employees.  For example, in an employee break room.  Vendors sell posters containing all of these requisite notices.  In addition, nearly all of these notices can be obtained from the applicable government agency.

Important Tip If you have employees for whom English is not their primary language, make sure that they are provided with translations of all required notices.

COLORADO NOTICES

Minimum Wage Order 25

Most small businesses, with a few exceptions, are subject to Colorado Minimum Wage Order 25 ("MWO 25").  MWO 25 regulates wages, hours, working conditions and procedures for certain employers and employees who perform work in retail and service, food and beverage, commercial support service, or health and medical industries.  Employees covered by MWO 25 must be paid no less than $7.28 per hour (more than the federal minimum wage), less any allowable credits for lodging, meals, or tips.  Occupations exempted from MWO 25 have very specific requirements and definitions, which must be reviewed in order to determine whether the exemption is met.  Compliance with MWO 25 is important, as violations constitute a misdemeanor crime and carry a potential penalty of a fine and imprisonment.

Colorado Anti-Discrimination Laws

Both the federal government and Colorado have laws prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on several classifications, and requiring the display of notices in the workplace.  Under Colorado law, employers must post a notice that Colorado prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination based on a variety of factors including race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, and disabilities.

Colorado Unemployment Insurance

Colorado employees who become unemployed through no fault of their own are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.  

Workers Compensation

Workers' compensation laws provide employees with medical benefits and financial compensation who are injured in the course and scope of their employment, regardless of fault.  Colorado law requires employers to post two notices to employees regarding their workers' compensation rights.  The first notice advises employees that if they are injured on the job, they must provide their employer with written notice of the injury within four days of the accident.  In addition to the usual requirement that this notice be posted in a conspicuous place, Colorado law requires that the notice be at least fourteen inches high and eleven inches wide.  Failure to comply may exempt employees from their duty to comply with the written notice requirements.  

Employers are also required to post a notice stating that the employer has the requisite workers' compensation insurance (of course, this also means that the employer must actually possess the requisite insurance policy).  The notice must include the name of the insurance company, the designated medical provider, and what to do if a work-related injury or illness occurs.

FEDERAL NOTICES

Equal Employment Opportunity

In addition to the Colorado anti-discrimination notice, the federal government also requires employers to display a notice in the workplace regarding federal equal opportunity rules.  A copy of the required notice (as well as all other required federal notices) can be obtained from the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

OSHA

The OSH Act sets forth occupational safety and health standards, which require employers to ensure that a workplace is free from recognized hazards.  The OSH Act is enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which provides a mechanism for employees to report workplace hazards to OSHA and request safety inspections.  OSHA mandates that employers post a notice of their rights under OSHA.  Failure to do so may subject an employer to a citation and penalty.

Federal Minimum Wage Requirements

Employers are required to post a notice setting forth the federal minimum wage (on July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 per hour, less than Colorado’s $7.28 minimum wage), as well as other requirements pertaining to overtime pay, youth employment, tip credit, and enforcement.

Note that employers of workers with certain types of disabilities are required to post a second notice explaining the conditions under which special minimum wages may be paid.

Employee Polygraph Protection

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits most employers from using lie detector tests either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment.  Violations may subject employers to penalties up to $10,000.  

USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the job rights of individuals who leave employment positions to serve in the military and prohibits employers from discriminating based on an individual's status as a past or present member of the military.  Employers are required to provide notice of USERRA rights to all persons entitled to such rights.  

Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers of 50 or more employees in 20 or more work weeks who are engaged in industries in or affecting commerce must post a notice explaining employees' rights and responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for reasons such as pregnancy, care for an ill family member, and serious health conditions.  Not all employers are subject to the FMLA or its notice requirements.

Additional federal notices

Depending on the nature of your business, additional notices of federal rights may be required.  For example, the Davis-Bacon Act requires employers to display a notice of rights to employees working on federal or federally financed construction projects.  The Service Contracts Act requires a notice of rights to employees working on government contracts.  

How virtual companies can comply with notice requirements

Virtual companies with no centralize workplace obviously lack a place to post required notices that is frequently visited by employees.  To ensure that employees receive all required notices, virtual companies can provide employees with copies of all required notices.  Be sure to document the fact that employees were provided with the notices.  One method of doing so is to ask employees to sign an acknowledgement that they have received and read the notices.  Retain these acknowledgements, should the question of receipt ever become an issue.

Additional Information
Important Tip: 
If you have employees for whom English is not their primary language, make sure that they are provided with translations of all required notices.
Marketing copy: 
ensuring that your new business is in compliance with all laws