As we previously advised, effective July 1, 2017, Arizona employers were required to begin allowing their employees to accrue paid sick leave (“PSL”) under the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, Arizona’s new paid sick leave law.

The Basics

  • ALL employees must accrue 1 hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked; overtime hours count when calculating accrual. Employers may also comply with PSL by providing a “grant” to employees of the maximum amount of PSL this includes part-time, seasonal, or temporary employees.
  • Employers must allow employees to accrue and use at least 40 hours a year for employers with 15 or more employees, or 24 hours a year for employers with fewer than 15 employees.
  • Accruals must begin on the first day of employment, although employees hired after July 1, 2017, may be required to wait 90 days before using PSL.
  • Exempt employees are assumed to accrue PSL based on a 40-hour work week, unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours.
  • PSL must carry forward to the next year unless the employer “front loads” a grant of the maximum PSL hours at the beginning of the new year.

Required Actions

  1. Post notices about paid sick leave in the workplace: AZ Earned Paid Sick Time Poster (2018) (English) AZ Earned Paid Sick Time Poster (2018) (Spanish)
  2. Implement a written policy that contains procedures for your employees to provide notice of their need to use PSL; and
  3. Make sure your paystubs, or an attachment to your paystubs, contain the following three items:
  • The amount of earned PSL available to the employee (accrued and unused);
  • The amount of PSL taken by the employee, to date, in that year; and
  • The amount of pay the employee has received as earned PSL.

Here’s an example of what your paystub should look like: “You have accrued 30 hours of PSL this year. You have used 10 hours, you have 20 hours available for use, and you have been paid $150 in sick pay.” * Failure to include this information is a stand-alone violation with HUGE potential damages.

Retaliation and Discipline

  • Employers cannot retaliate for using or seeking to use PSL.
  • It is a PRESUMPTION under this law that any discipline that follows within 90 days of an employee using or seeking to use PSL is retaliation, which can be overcome by clear and convincing evidence the adverse action was taken for reasons unrelated to the exercise of rights under this statute.
  • Employers cannot use PSL as an absence that leads to discipline.
  • It is critical employers have a strong written discipline policy as to PSL usage and attendance and punctuality including the required notice for use of PSL. Employers should track the usage of PSL and if patterns of excessive absenteeism or abuse of PSL emerge, and act discipline accordingly in compliance with the written policy.

Penalties for Violations

  • An employer who violates the recordkeeping and posting requirements is subject to a civil penalty of at least $250 for the first violation and at least $1000 for each subsequent or willful violation.  Special monitoring and inspections may also be imposed.
  • If an employer fails to maintain required records, it will be presumed that the employer did not pay the required earned paid sick time.
  • Any employer who fails to pay earned PSL is required to pay the balance of the PSL owed, including interest, and an additional amount equal to twice the unpaid PSL.
  • An employer who retaliates against an employee is required to pay the employee not less than $150 for each day that the violation continued or until legal judgment is final. Prevailing parties in suits arising under this law are entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of suit.

To date, there are no reported court decisions interpreting this statute. We can assist you in crafting compliant policies and procedures. If you are an employee whose rights have been violated under this law, the lawyers at Faulkner Law Offices, PLLC can help you enforce your rights.