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Are You Ready for Arizona’s Paid Sick Leave?

As you know, Arizona joined the ever growing number of states and cities that require employers to provide paid sick leave (PSL). The requirement was approved by voters as Proposition 206 in November 2016. While the minimum wage requirements were effective January 1, 2017, the PSL requirements go into effect on July 1, 2017.

Let’s go over some of the basic PSL requirements. All employers except the State of Arizona and the US Government are required to provide PSL to their employees. All employees, except babysitters, that work in Arizona are required to earn PSL.

Employees start to accrue PSL from their first day of employment. Employees are to accrue one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked. Employees of an employer with 15 or more employees are to accrue at least 40 hours per year. Employees of an employer with less 15 employees are to accrue at least 24 hours per year. Employers do have the option of front-loading the entire amount at the beginning of each year. While there is an annual accrual cap, all unused PSL must be carried over to the following year.

Employers can require their employees work 90 days before using their accrued PSL. Employers with 15 or more employees may limit the amount of PSL used each year to 40 hours. Employers with less than 15 employees may limit the amount of PSL used each year to 24 hours. Employees may use the PSL for the following reasons: (1) medical care or mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of themselves or a family member; (2) a public health emergency; and (3) absence due to domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse, or stalking. If the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee must make a good faith effort to provide notice in advance and make a reasonable effort to schedule to not unduly disrupt business operations. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, employers must set out notice requirements in a written policy that has been provided to employees. If an employee is absent for three consecutive work days then the employer may require certain documentation to substantiate that the absence relates to allowed uses of PSL.

When an employee is discharged or quits, an employer is not required to pay out accrued PSL. If an employee is rehired within 9 months of separation then their previously accrued, unused PSL must be reinstated and they can use it immediately.

It is important to note that there are anti-retaliation provisions contained in the law. To that end it is unlawful to count PSL taken as an absence that may lead to discipline or adverse employment action.

It is recommended that every employer have a policy that addresses the PSL requirements such as when an employee can use it, how they accrue it, how much PSL they can use each year and any notice requirements to take time off including the consequences if the notice is not given. Employers should consider training managers about the PSL requirements and make them aware that retaliation is prohibited.

Proposition 206 put in place certain recordkeeping and notice requirements for employers. Every employer in Arizona will need to post the PSL poster which can be found here. Employers must provide employees with the amount of PSL available, the amount of PSL taken year to date, and the amount of PSL paid with each paycheck. Employers are required to keep records relating to PSL for 4 years.

If your organization already has a sick leave or paid time off policy that offers at least 40 hours of time off each year, then you may be thinking that you have met the requirements of Proposition 206. I challenge you to think differently. Your organization’s policy probably does not include all the reasons that someone can take off as are listed in Proposition 206 such as public health emergencies. In addition, the policy may have an overall maximum accrual cap and this is not permitted by Proposition 206 as all unused PSL must carry over to the next year. Thus, it is important to review your organization’s policy and revise it to meet Proposition 206’s requirements.

HR Law Works can assist with the implementation of PSL at your organization.

Not to inspire folks to call in sick due to all the great weather we have experienced, the picture below (or above depending on your view) was taken while on our rafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in May 2016.