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Will Colorado parents get time off for school functions?

Lynn Bartels
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Two years in a row, Sen. Peter Groff pushed a parental leave bill aimed at requiring employeers to give parents time off to attend school functions.

The Denver Democrat got his bill through the Senate in 2005 and 2006 only to see it watered down so much in the House he killed his own measure.

“The parents have once again lost out to the bloody business lobby,” an emotional Groff said in 2006.



A version of the bill is back this year, but under different circumstances that have backers hopeful it could finally pass.

House Bill 1057 would allow workers in a Colorado company with 10 or more employees to take up to 40 hours a year in unpaid leave to attend parent-teacher conferences or other academic-related activities.



Once again the business community has geared up to try to defeat or defuse it but one of their biggest allies is gone.

Speaker Andrew Romanoff was credited by business groups with helping limit the measure. The Denver Democrat left office in January because of term limits.

Romanoff’s successor is Rep. Terrance Carroll, who sponsored the 2005 measure with Groff.



The sponsors this year are Democratic Rep. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Sen. Bob Bacon of Fort Collins. Kerr said he is working with business groups on the bill.

“We are hopeful that we can come up with something they will like,” Kerr said.

But several business owners are expected to testify against the bill.

“The best solution is to kill the bill because it has so many problems for businesses and for consumers,” said Christine Burtt, chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Business Coalition.

“Speaker Romanoff was right about the bill. We don’t need it.”

The House Education Committee this afternoon will consider HB 1057, a parental-leave bill that failed in two other sessions.

Under the bill:

An employee in a Colorado company with 10 or more workers may take up to 40 hours a year in unpaid leave to attend parent-teacher conferences or other academic-related activities.

Leave is limited to six hours per month, and can only be taken in increments of three hours or less.

Parents are required to provide employers with at least three days’ notice of the leave, except in an emergency, and employers may require that employees provide written verification of the reason for leave.

Specifies that businesses that already have comparable leave policies are not required to provide additional leave.

*Employer productivity and profits increase when employees feel they can balance work and family.

*Students whose parents are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better grades, and are more likely to complete secondary school.

*Creates a disincentive for an employer to hire someone with school-aged children.

*Unnecessary because schools already have convenient schedules for parent-teacher conferences.

*Penalizes employees who do not have school-age children by allowing their fellow workers up to 40 hours a year in additional time off.


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