Employers operating in the Rocky Mountain region need to pay close attention to the 2020 Administrative Order issued by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) mandating broad changes to employee compensation and rights. It is different than similar orders issued previously, and makes significant changes to wage and hour laws in Colorado. CDLE recently adopted the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order #36 (COMPS Order #36), replacing Minimum Wage Order # 35. COMPS Order #36 is effective on March 16, 2020. Employers should note the changes required by COMPS Order #36, including the types of covered employees and employers, expansion of meal and rest breaks, and increases in minimum salary thresholds for employees exempt from minimum wage laws.

Employee Coverage

Before COMPS Order #36, Colorado’s wage and hour laws applied only to specific employees working in the (1) retail and service, (2) food and beverage, (3) commercial support service, and (4) health and medical industries. COMPS Order #36 expands its purview to all employers in any industry, with limited worker or industry-specific exemptions, including but not limited to:

  • certain executive or supervisory employees
  • certain administrative employees
  • professional employees
  • outside salespersons
  • owners of a business
  • interstate transportation workers or taxi cab drivers
  • in-residence workers, such as casual babysitters or resident advisors
  • certain laundry workers
  • seasonal workers
  • employees in highly-technical computer-related occupations
  • elected officials
  • agricultural workers

A complete list can be found in COMPS Order #36, Rules 2.2 to 2.4.

Changes to the Colorado Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees

As employers prepare for COMPS Order #36 to become effective, they should be mindful of the increase in minimum salary thresholds for exempt workers. Beginning on July 1, 2020, exempt employees must earn a minimum yearly salary of $35,586 ($684.00/week), equivalent with new federal requirements. Note that COMPS Order #36 builds in automatic increases every year until 2024, with the first increase to the minimum salary threshold to $40,500/year ($778.85/week), effective January 1, 2021, and these increases will make the minimum salary requirements higher than federal law.

Non-profit employers with total gross revenue of under $50 million annually and for-profit employers with total gross revenue of under $1 million are exempt from the salary requirements.

New Break Rules

COMPS Order #36 also implements new meal and rest period requirements. Employers must now provide at least one 30-minute, uninterrupted and duty-free meal break when their shift exceeds five consecutive hours, during which time the employee must be relieved of all duties and permitted to pursue personal activities.

Employers must also allow employees at least one compensated 10-minute rest period for each four hours of work, or major fraction thereof. An employer may allow an employee to have multiple breaks that add up to 10 minutes, as long as the break time is compensated. Where an employer does not provide a sufficient rest period, the employer is obligated to pay the employee for the time not received. Employers must provide rest periods as follows:

Work Hours

Rest Periods Required

2 or Fewer


Over 2 and up to 6


Over 6 and up to 10


Over 10 and up to 14


Over 14 and up to 18


Over 18 and up to 22


Over 22


Other Requirements

COMPS Order #36 also revises language from prior orders with the aim to address ambiguities, including:

  • Defining “Time Worked” as including pre and post-work time where employees must change into and out of required uniforms, receiving or sharing work-related information, security screening, remaining at the worksite for a decision on job assignment or when to begin work, performing cleaning duties, and clocking in and out;
  • Clarifying the definition of “Travel Time” to exclude time traveling to and from a work station, if that time is entirely within the employer’s premises and/or with employer-provided transportation, unless it materially prolongs the employee’s commute or subjects and employee to heightened physical risk; and
  • Clarifying that employers may prohibit tipping and not violate rules against retaining employee tips under certain circumstances.

Employers must post these changes using the COMPS Order #36 Poster, available from the CDLE.

Akerman is available to assist with any issues arising as a result of COMPS Order #36.