Arizona’s new paid sick leave law — known as The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act — recently took effect as of July 1, 2017 after Proposition 206 passed in November of 2016. The first part of this legislation raised Arizona’s minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1st of 2017, and the wage will continue to increase until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020.
The second, less publicized component of The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act includes changes to the state’s sick leave policy. These changes are poised to dramatically alter how Arizona workplaces handle sick leave. Given that these changes have just recently taken effect, here is a closer look at how Arizona’s new paid sick leave legislation will impact employers and their employees.
Changes to Paid Sick Leave
Private and municipal employers in the state of Arizona are now required to provide paid sick leave for all their employees. Proposition 206 outlined that employees must accrue paid sick leave at a specified minimum rate, which is one hour of paid sick leave per thirty hours of work. This minimum requirement is not limited to a work week or pay period as well.
Additionally, there is delineation between what is required of large and small employers. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide and allow employees to use at least 40 hours of paid sick time each year. Employers with fewer than 15 employees, alternatively, must give employees at least 24 hours of paid sick time that is allowed to be used each year.
Arizona’s minimum wage laws have very few exemptions, which include the following:
- Independent Contractors
- A person who is employed by a parent or a sibling.
- A person who is employed performing babysitting services in the employer’s home on a casual basis.
- A person employed by the State of Arizona or the United States government.
- A person employed in a “small business” grossing less than $500,000 in annual revenue, if that small business is not required to pay minimum wage under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This exclusion for small businesses under Arizona minimum wage law is very limited. Given current economic realities, most Arizona businesses who gross less than $500,000 will still be subject to the Arizona minimum wage laws. For additional discussion of the “small business” exemption, see the preceding question.
What Can Paid Sick Leave Be Used for Under The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act?
Earned paid sick time can be used for the employee who earned the time or their family members, as outlined by A.R.S. § 23-373. This statute says that paid sick time can be used for employees and their family members for:
- Medical care or mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- A public health emergency (such as picking up a child who gets sick with a communicable disease at school)
- Absence due to domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse, or stalking
These designations are intentionally broad, helping Arizona employees better take care of themselves and their loved ones when sick. While this clarity may be great for employees, the new changes bring complexity for employers.
Additional Requirements for Employers
Under the new paid sick leave law, part-time and temporary workers alike are considered employees. This means that part-time workers must also be granted paid sick leave.
Other complexities relate to an employer’s requirement to clearly inform employees of their sick leave rights. Employers are now required to post a workplace notice that details the rights and protections employees are afforded based on The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act.
Payroll and paycheck policies will also need updating since employers are now required to:
- Retain payroll records for four years
- Provide information related to the employee’s earned paid sick time on the employee paycheck
- Provide information regarding paid sick time taken by the employee on the employee paycheck
- Provide information on the employee paycheck concerning pay the employee has received as earned paid sick time
Employers cannot require employees to find a replacement worker to cover their absence before using paid sick leave, nor can they use an employee’s use of paid sick leave as a justification to discipline or terminate the employee.
If you are an Arizona employee who is terminated or is otherwise treated unfairly for using earned paid sick leave after July 1, 2017, talk to a trusted Phoenix employment lawyer immediately.
Contact Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC for a legal consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether you have been treated unfairly based on the new changes brought by The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act.