Arizona’s new paid sick time law has garnered attention from Arizona employers and employees alike, now that employers are legally required to provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave to nearly any employee in the state.
Employees of businesses with 15 or more workers will be given at least 40 hours of paid sick leave.
For employees who never enjoyed paid sick leave prior to the new law, it may seem as though more paid time off is inevitable.
This is not necessarily true, however, as some employees may even see less paid time off.
How Can Paid Sick Leave Be Used Under the New Law?
To understand how the paid sick leave may not lead to more paid time off, it is important to understand the new law’s limitations on how sick time can be used.
Paid sick leave can be used for more than just a medical illness, as the law explicitly states that receiving counseling or legal services for domestic violence or abuse is also allowed.
Expect Employers to Update Sick Leave Policies in Response to the New Sick Time Law
Although employees do not need to provide documentation or reasons for their sick leave unless they have taken three consecutive days away from work, it is foreseeable that some employers will likely update their paid sick leave policies.
Updated policies may require employees to fill out paid sick time forms that detail why leave was used as well as how many days or hours of leave were taken.
Such policies would effectively require employees to provide a general basis for taking paid sick leave, even if they are not required to provide these details by law.
More importantly, an updated business policy could actually eliminate some vacation days in order to accommodate the newly allotted sick time by law.
The new law does not prevent an employer from meeting the new paid sick leave standards by trimming or updating their existing time-off and paid vacation policies.
In short, the question of whether the new law will give you more paid time off is twofold in nature.
First, will the employer change its paid time off policies in reaction to the new law? If employers take away vacation days to accommodate the new law — which they are legally entitled to do — employees could end up with less time off. If the employer opts not to do so, then it is theoretically possible that the employee will see more time off.
The second issue to consider is whether the employer will update their policy to explicitly forbid using paid sick leave for any purpose not allowed by the new law.
This policy would effectively be a company’s attempt to prevent employees from using sick leave for vacation days on occasion, hoping to cut down on abuse of the new law.
If employers do not do so or make no attempt to crack down on using sick leave for vacation time, it is not unrealistic to expect some employees to game the system as needed.
Proving that an employee was not actually sick would be a difficult endeavor, which is why some companies may choose to take significant disciplinary measures for any worker who is caught using paid sick leave for unauthorized reasons.
For more information about how the new law could affect your time off, contact Tyler Allen Law, PLLC for a legal consultation.