Minimum wage and paid sick leave: new Arizona statutes

Minimum wage and paid sick leave: new Arizona statutes

By Sharon Moyer

In the November election, Arizona voters approved Proposition 206 (the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative), which raised the minimum wage in Arizona to $10 per hour and requires virtually all employers to provide paid sick leave.

The minimum wage hike went into effect January 1 and gradually increases to $12 per hour by 2020. The paid sick leave portion of the law took effect on July 1.

On March 14, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to Prop 206. The court’s ruling left intact the minimum wage increases and paid sick leave requirements imposed by the new law.

Paid Sick Leave

Passage of Prop 206 makes Arizona one of only seven states to require employers to provide paid sick leave.

Employees of small businesses (those with fewer than 15 employees) are eligible for up to 24 hours of sick leave annually. Employees of larger companies are eligible for up to 40 hours of leave. Other important provisions include the following:
• All employees, including part-time and temporary employees, must be provided with paid sick leave. The law provides for a minimum “accrual” of leave (1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked) but allows employers to grant employees a specific amount of leave at the start of the year.
• Employees must be given written notice of their rights under the law (see English and Spanish language notices, downloadable from the Industrial Commission of Arizona website).
• The permitted uses of the leave are broad and include not just the employee’s own illness but also illnesses of the employee’s family members and leave relating to domestic violence.
• Paid sick leave must carry over from year to year, unless the employer pays its employees for unused sick leave at the end of the year and provides a single grant of leave at the start of the year.
• Employers who wish to require employees to provide notice prior to taking foreseeable leave must have a written policy.
• Leave must accrue beginning with the first day of employment, but employers may have a policy restricting employees from using leave within the first 90 days of employment.
• Employers must provide employees with a record of the leave they have been provided and used, and employers must retain those records for four years.
• Unused leave does not need to be paid out at the end of employment.
• Employers may not retaliate against employees for using or requesting paid sick leave.

The new law allows employers to provide the paid sick leave in the form of “paid time off” that can be used for a variety of purposes, as many employers do under existing policies. However, these policies must provide employees with at least the benefits specified under the new statutes. Many employers may need to review existing policies or adopt new policies in order to fully comply with the new law.

Sharon Moyer is an attorney at Sacks Tierney P.A. Her practice focuses on employment law and trust and estate litigation. Ms. Moyer can be reached at 480-425-2606 or moyer@sackstierney.com.

These materials are designed to provide general information prepared by professionals in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. Although prepared by professionals, these materials should not be utilized as a substitute for professional service in specific situations. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the service of a professional should be sought.