In Arizona, an employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. See the AZ Industrial Commission’s pamphlet, “The State of Arizona’s Labor Law: Your Wages and Working.” If an employer chooses to provide such provide vacation benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. See AZ Statute 23-350(5).
The Arizona Attorney General has recognized that employers may lawfully implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” leave policy requiring employees to use vacation by a set date or lose it, so long as employees have a reasonable opportunity to use the leave. AZ Atty. General Op. I80-120.
An employer would also likely be free to implement a policy or enter into a contract that caps the amount of vacation leave an employee can accumulate over time.
Neither Arizona’s Legislature nor its courts have given any significant guidance regarding an employer’s ability to deny or restrict the payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment. They are silent regarding whether an employer may:
- establish a policy or enter into a contract where it refuses to pay accrued or earned vacation upon separation from employment,
- refuse to pay an employee accrued vacation upon separation from employment when the policy does not address whether accrued vacation will be paid upon separation from employment,
- deny an employee payment of accrued or earned vacation leave upon separation from employment if the employee fails to meet certain standards, such as failing to give timely notice of resignation or being terminated for cause
Arizona requires all employers to provide paid sick to employees who work in Arizona. See Industrial Commission of AZ: FAQs about Minimum Wage and Earned Paid Sick Time
An employer in Arizona may be required to provide an employee unpaid long-term sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws as discussed below.
Arizona law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. In Arizona, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
Visit our Arizona State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Arizona as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.
Jury Duty Leave
An employer is not required to pay an employee any wages for time spent complying with a jury summons or serving on a jury.
An employer may not require an employee to use annual, vacation, or sick leave for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury.
When an employee returns from jury service, he or she must be returned to their previous position or to a higher position if the employee would have been entitled to the higher position had they not served jury duty. An employee cannot lose seniority while serving as a juror.
A court will postpone the jury service of an employee of an employer with five (5) or fewer full-time employees, or their equivalent, if another employee is the employer is serving as a juror during that same period.
Individuals who fail to allow employees to comply with a jury summons or otherwise violates an employee’s rights related to jury duty are guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.
Arizona law requires employers to provide employees time off with pay to vote for primary and general elections. To be eligible for paid voting leave, the employee must make a request prior to the day of the election.
An employer is only required to provide employees with enough paid leave so that employees have three (3) consecutive hours to vote between either the opening of the polls and the start of their shift or the end of their shift and the closing of the polls. For example, if voting polls open at 7:00 a.m. and an employee’s shift starts at 9:00 a.m., the employer could comply with the voting leave law by allowing the employee to arrive at work at 10:00 a.m. and paying the employee wages for the one (1) hour they would have otherwise worked. By granting the one (1) hour of paid leave at the beginning of the employee’s shift, the employer would be ensuring that the employee had three (3) consecutive hours in which to vote.
The employer may specify the hours an employee can leave to vote.
An employer that refuses an employee the right to paid voting leave may be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
Arizona law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.
Arizona Family and Medical Leave
Arizona labor laws do not provide employees with family or medical leave.
However, employees in Arizona have rights guaranteed by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For example, the FMLA allows employees to take time off, unpaid leave, for health and caregiving reasons and also have the right to reinstatement.
Who is Covered?
An employer in Arizona with more than 50 employees (for a minimum of twenty weeks in the previous or current year) must adhere to all regulations set out in the FMLA.
An employee is eligible for FMLA benefits if they have been employed by the same employer for a minimum of 12 months, have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours within the last 12 months, and work at a location with a minimum of 50 employees.
FMLA leave is available to people who need to:
- Take care of a member of the family with a severe health issue
- Recover from their own a serious health problem
- Bond with and care for a newborn or adopted child
- Handle circumstances that happen because of a family member’s military duty or take care of a military member of the family who suffered a severe injury during service.
How Much FMLA Leave is Available?
Employees in Arizona can take as much as 3 months of leave every 12 months due to a severe health condition, bonding with or caring for a new child, or other reasons listed above. This family and medical leave renews every 12 months if the employee continues to qualify according to eligibility requirements.
Employees who need to take military caregiver leave, i.e., take care of a military member who has suffered an injury, may be entitled to 26 weeks off in one year.
However, this leave is per injury or per service member entitlement. This means that unless the same family member is reinjured or a different family member suffers a severe injury during service, the same worker may not take more leave.
When FMLA leave ends, a worker has the right to be returned to the same or equivalent position as they held before. Workers also have the right to continue receiving their healthcare insurance during this period at the same cost paid during full employment. FMLA leave is unpaid, although employees may be allowed accumulated paid leave during this time.