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The Colorado State Capitol in Denver Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado state employees will have access to a Paid Family Medical Leave program starting January 2021, according to a news release Monday from Gov. Jared Polis' office.

The new program will be the first time state employees have access to pay if the need to care for a loved one, recover from a serious illness or be at home with a new child.

"I am proud to say that Paid Leave will now be a reality for State Employees, many of whom have worked day and night during this past year to ensure that we can save the lives of Coloradans and come out stronger from this public health crisis,” Polis said in the release.

The program's funding is sourced through the Group Benefits Plan Reserve Fund, which pays for health, dental and life benefits for state employees. The fund accrued enough money to cover the program's 2021 expenses, as employees used less medical benefits during the pandemic.

After 2021, funding will be jointly pursued between the Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions, an organization that supports state employees, and the General Assembly.

“This is a good step in the right direction and we look forward to negotiating our first contract with the state with an equally collaborative spirit," Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions Executive Director Hilary Glasgow said. "We know the best way to take care of Coloradans is to take care of our state employees who make the way for a vibrant and flourishing Colorado.”

Colorado voters also approved a ballot measure that will create an insurance program that employers in Colorado can offer to their workers for family medical leave insurance starting in 2024.

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@JessySnouwaert

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