Is your business ready for mandatory paid sick leave?

Greenburg Traurig’s Dana Hooper

If you own a business, you are likely aware that the state’s minimum wage was increased to $10 per hour in January, made possible by the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. But is your business ready for part II of the law? That’s right, part II, which includes paid sick leave for Arizonans.

The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act also included a paid sick leave mandate for employees working in the state—that means full-time, part-time and temporary employees must be offered paid sick leave. This part of the law hits the books on July 1st.

Ready, or not! The implementation is less than a month away. Here are some answers from Greenberg Traurig labor and employment attorney Dana Hooper to questions you might be asking.

I am a business owner—do I get to choose the amount of sick leave for my employees?

The law requires that employees earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. 

If your business has 15 or more employees, employees are not entitled to accrue or use more than 40 hours of earned paid sick time per year.  If your business has 1 to 14 employees, employees are not entitled to accrue or use more than 24 hours of earned paid sick time per year.  As a business owner, however, you are able to provide more paid sick time if you choose, not less.

My business already offers PTO that exceeds these minimums, do I need to change anything to my policies and procedures?

Yes and no.  While you are not required to give additional earned paid sick time on top of a paid leave policy that meets or exceeds Arizona’s new earned paid sick time minimum requirements, you must ensure that your former policies are modified to abide by the intricacies of the new mandates. For example, the law has some strict reporting requirements. Each employee’s paystub must list how much sick leave has been accrued, used, and received. Additionally, informational posters about the law must be displayed in a well-trafficked area of the office, such as a copy-room or breakroom.  If you don’t follow these procedures, you may be hit with penalties by the Industrial Commission of Arizona and/or lawsuits.

It would also be wise to revise your employee handbooks, policies and procedures and adjust your onboarding process to cover the new law. It is also suggested to train your managers on the law’s provisions to ensure they understand the new rights employees have.

So, employees can only use this if they are sick… right?

Technically, no. There are several reasons an employee can take advantage of their paid sick leave, according to the law.

Obviously, the law applies to employees experiencing personal illness or injury. However, employees can also use the time for treating their mental health, illness of  “family members” as defined by the law, domestic violence issues, public health emergencies, and sexual abuse and stalking.

My business is not ready for this change on July 1—what should I do?

Thankfully, you have a couple of weeks left to get your ducks in a row.

Whether you are overwhelmed by the new requirements, or feel like you have a good grasp on the new rules, it is advisable to consult with an employment lawyer to guide you through the many nuances and to assist in the review and revision of your policies and practices to comply with the law.

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