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What You Need to Know About Arizona’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Jun 30, 2017 in Employee Rights

leave request formOn July 1, a provision of Proposition 206 will go into effect that requires employers in Arizona to provide their employees with mandatory earned paid sick leave.

As Proposition 206, or the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, takes effect, the concept of mandatory earned paid sick leave may be new to many employees in Arizona.

Our trusted Phoenix employment attorneys have provided this guide to explain the new law.

What is Earned Paid Sick Leave?

Earned paid sick leave is time accrued by an employee that is paid at the same hourly rate and with the same benefits, including health care benefits, as the employee normally earns during hours worked.

Employees will begin accruing paid sick leave the first day of their employment or July 1, 2017, whichever date is later.

The new law does not require an employee to prove he or she is sick to use earned paid sick leave.

In Arizona, an employee’s use of earned sick time can be for themselves or certain family members for the following reasons:

  • Medical care for mental illness, injury or health condition
  • A public health emergency
  • Absence due to domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse or stalking
  • Closure of the employee’s place of employment
  • Legal services, such as consulting with an attorney
  • Care for a family member

What Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave?

The new law will apply to nearly every employer in Arizona. Under The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, the term “employer” refers to:

  • Corporation
  • Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Joint venture
  • Limited liability company
  • Trust
  • Association
  • Political subdivision of the state
  • Private business owner

Any individual or entity that acts directly or indirectly as an employer to an employee will be required to allow that employee to earn paid sick leave. However, the law does not include employees of the state or the federal government.

If an employer or business fails to meet this obligation, it will be subjected to penalties from the Industrial Commission of Arizona.

Employers who have not provided sick time must pay the employee for this time and damages equal to twice the earned sick time owed, as well as attorney fees.

How Much Earned Paid Sick Leave Will Employees Have?

Under The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, employers are required to provide all employees who sign a W-2 the right to earn paid sick leave.

The amount of earned sick time provided depends on the number of employees that work for an employer.

Employers with 15 or More Employees

If you work for an employer with 15 or more employees, you must accrue a minimum of one hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. You are not entitled to use or accrue more than 40 hours of earned paid sick leave per year. However, an employer can select a higher limit of earned paid sick time to provide employees.

Employers with Less than 15 Employees

If you work for an employer with less than 15 employees, you must accrue a minimum of one hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. It is not required for you to accrue or use more than 24 hours of earned paid sick time per year, unless your employer elects to provide you with a higher limit.

When Can an Employee Use Earned Paid Sick Leave?

You are allowed to use earned paid sick leave the moment you have accrued enough hours.

However, if you were hired after July 1, 2017, you may have to go through a 90-day probationary period before you are allowed to use earned paid sick leave.

If your intention to use paid sick leave is foreseeable, you must make a reasonable effort to inform your employer in advance and schedule the leave in a way that does not disrupt business or production.

An employer that requires its employees to provide advanced notice to use paid sick leave when the need is not foreseeable must provide this policy in writing and inform the employee of this requirement. If an employer fails to do this you cannot be denied the right to use earned paid sick leave.

Do I Have to Tell My Employer What I Use My Sick Time For?

The law will also limit an employer’s right to ask what an employee intends to do during his or her sick time.

If you are absent from work for more than three consecutive days, an employer may ask for valid documentation that provides a general reason for your absence, such as:

  • Doctor’s note
  • Police report
  • Letter from an attorney
  • Personal statement from the worker

How Long Do I Have to Use My Paid Sick Leave?

You will have one year to use any earned paid sick leave you accrue. Although it must be a regular 12-month consecutive period, your employer will choose when it begins. This can include:

  • Employee hire date
  • Calendar year
  • Fiscal year

If you do not use all of your earned paid sick time throughout the year, it will carry over to the following year. This time will still be limited based on the 40-hour or 24-hour rule that applies to your employer.

Your employer also has the alternative to pay out the remainder of your unused earned paid sick leave at the end of the year. This payment must be equal to or more than the legal minimum amounts for you to use at the start of the following year.

Contact Our Phoenix Employment Lawyers

The Phillips Law Group's experienced Phoenix employment lawyers are ready to help Arizona workers whose rights have been violated by their employer.

If your employer does not provide you earned paid sick leave, we may be able to help you take legal action.

Schedule a free consultation by phone with one of our attorneys to determine if your employee rights have been violated. 

Call 1-800-706-3000 to get started today. No fees to start your case. No fees unless we win your case. 

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