The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act of 2016 lays the foundation for the sick leave law in Arizona. Under this law, private employers in Arizona are required to provide paid sick leave to employees.
However, the sick leave law in Arizona is quite complicated. There are also some requirements and policies on calculating paid sick leave time, which will be discussed further below.
Fair Wages Healthy Families Act
The Fair Wages Healthy Families Act applies to all private employers in Arizona. While some small companies or employers are exempt from adhering to the minimum wage law, all are required to observe the paid sick leave act.
In line with this, employers in Arizona are compelled to adjust their policies to provide paid sick leave to their employees. In addition, they must post required notices in the office and alert employees of their rights to paid sick leave time.
In addition to the Fair Wages Healthy Families Act, the state of Arizona is also subject to the federal government FMLA, which provides unpaid sick time rights to employees.
Employees in Arizona should be well-updated with their rights to paid sick leave. As such, it must be well-documented in the employee handbook.
The amount of sick leave available and the number of paid leave used must be reported to the employee for each day. Given that, most companies in Arizona use a payroll management system to ensure that records are accurate and updated regularly.
Moreover, such records must be kept for at least four years and should be accessible to employees at any time. Failure to maintain proper records can be a ground for fines and penalties, as it creates a presumption that the employer is not complying with the law.
Employers are also required to create a new time-off policy that incorporates paid sick leave. Those already providing sick leave benefits to their employees before the enactment of the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act in 2017 will only have to adjust their policy to ensure it covers the minimum paid leave requirements of the law.
The paid sick time law of Arizona serves as guidance for employers in the state. Permanent and temporary employees automatically accrue leave credits, and they can use them right away.
However, for new hires, employers may require them to wait for 90 days before taking sick leave. During such a period, the sick leave of newly hired employees accrues, but they can’t use it yet.
Sick leave can be used for any of the following reasons:
- Medical care for the serious health condition, including preventative care, of the employee or his or her family member. A health condition can mean anything from physical to mental health problems.
- Health-related concerns that arise from sexual and domestic abuse, and stalking
- Instances related to public health emergencies or exposure to a communicable disease. An example of a public health emergency is the Covid-19 pandemic.
An employee may also take a paid sick leave if their place of business has been closed. The same is true for employees who need to care for a child whose childcare provider has been closed due to a local order or a public health emergency.
Arizona has a broad definition of a family member. It can mean the employee’s spouse, child, parent, step-child or step-parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. It also includes the grandparent, grandchild, or sibling of the employee’s spouse.
Other reasons for paid sick leave include:
- Treatment or preventative care for mental illness
- Moving to a new home or taking steps to secure the employee’s place of residence as a result of sexual or domestic violence, as well as stalking
- Legal services, including the preparation for or participation in any civil or criminal proceedings arising from physical illness or mental illness due to sexual or domestic abuse, as well as stalking.
Paid Sick Leave Accrual
For companies with 15 or more people, employees are given one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work. However, paid sick time is limited to 40 hours per year.
For those with lower than 15 staff, employees accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work rendered. That said, it has to be no more than 24 hours in one year. If the employer’s policy allows for a higher limit, then the most favorable condition for the employee will be observed.
As an alternative to accrual, employers may grant unused sick leave to their employees in the form of a lump sum. This, however, should be provided on the 90th day of employment and annually thereafter.
Employers can choose to pay their employees with accrued sick leave at the end of the year. They can only do so as long as the employees are provided with sick leave credits at the beginning of the proceeding year. For example, an employer with 30 employees can pay an employee for any hours remaining at the end of the year.
Paid sick time begins to accrue at the beginning of employment. An employee who is exempt from overtime requirements as provided in the Fair Labor Standards Act is assumed to have worked for 40 hours per week to determine paid sick leave accrual.
The exception is when the normal workweek of the employee is less than 40 hours per week. In this case, the paid sick time accrues based on the employee’s normal workweek.
The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act only applies to employees actually residing in Arizona. For example, an Arizona company has four employees based in Arizona, 10 in California, three in New York, and five in Colorado.
Even though the company has a total of 22 employees, to determine paid sick leave credits, it is assumed that the company has only four employees. Since the employer, in this case, has fewer than 15 employees, the Arizona employees are entitled to accrue and use 24 hours of paid sick time each year.
Notice for Leave
Employers can have varying policies on when and how an employee should notify them of their absence.
Employees should make a good faith effort to inform their employers when the reason for leave is foreseeable. This applies to scheduled treatments and legal dealings in the case of domestic violence or sexual violence.
Also, employees are required to provide a certain amount of time when the reason for leave is not foreseeable. When an employee uses leave for three consecutive days, the employer can ask for reasonable documentation for the leave, such as medical certification from a qualified health care provider.
What happens if an employee is transferred to another department or location? Since he remains part of the company, he is still entitled to all accrued paid sick leave before the transfer.
When the employee separates from the employer but is hired within nine months from the day of separation, the previously accrued paid sick leave that had not been used shall be reinstated. Moreover, the employee is entitled to accrue paid sick leave at the start of his or her employment.
What happens when a different employer takes over an existing business or company? In this case, all employees who remain part of the company are entitled to all earned paid sick leave they accrued before the transfer of management. Sec 23-372
At its discretion, an employer may allow their employees to take advanced paid sick leave. This shall be deducted in the employee’s succeeding year’s worth of paid leave time.
Front-Loading Earned Paid Sick Time
When an employee is hired after the start of the year, the employer should create a reasonable projection of the paid sick leave that the employee would accrue from the beginning of his or her employment.
If, however, the projection of paid sick leave is less than what the employee would accrue based on hours actually worked for that year, the employer is required to provide paid sick leave. The sick leave must reflect the employer’s protection and the amount of accrued sick leave time that the employee would have accrued for that year.
For example, an employer has 20 employees who work 40 hours a week. It hires a new employee with 12 weeks remaining in its year. The employer may reasonably project that the employee will work 480 hours until the end of the year. As a result, this entitles him or her to 16 hours of earned paid sick leave.
In this case, the employer is not required to provide additional accrual if the employee hasn’t actually worked more than 480 hours. Hence, if the employee actually worked, say 540 hours, the employer is required to provide additional two hours of paid sick time.
Calculating Hourly Rates for Paid Sick Time
According to the Arizona Administrative Code R20-5-1201(25), in no case may the hourly rate to determine sick leave payment be less than the minimum wage.
The computation for paid sick time payment is based on the hourly rate of the employee. For employees who have a single rate, the same will apply to their paid sick time. Therefore, if the employee’s hourly rate is $30, he or she should be paid $30 for each hour of paid sick leave.
For employees with multiple hourly rates, the employer should use the average hourly rate of the employee in determining the payment for sick leave time.
For salaried employees, paid sick leave payment is calculated by dividing the salary by the number of hours worked each day. If unknown, the employee uses the salary in the current year divided by 40 hours to determine the rate of the paid sick time. For example, if employee A earns $1500 per workweek, his hourly rate, for paid sick time, is $37.50.