Arizona sick day policy

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Julie A. Pace, The Cavanagh Law Firm
June 12th, 2018

Arizona sick day policy

Julie A. Pace, The Cavanagh Law Firm

This blog comes directly from the Arizona Human Resources Manual. If you are an member, just log in and go to Chapter 21, Personnel manuals and policies.

Beginning on July 1, 2017, under Arizona law, all employees earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  If a company has 15 or more employees, employees accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.  If a company has fewer than 15 employees, employees accrue and may use up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.  Exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours per week (unless their actual schedule is fewer hours, then their actual schedule can be used).  Unused sick leave rolls over from year to year unless the employer pays for the unused leave. 

In lieu of an hourly accrual, an employer may give employees all of their sick leave hours up front at the beginning of the year.  Additionally, if employers already have a paid time off plan that provides at least as much paid time off and allows leave for the sick time, that plan will satisfy Arizona’s sick leave requirements.

Unused sick leave is not required to be paid upon separation of employment.  Unused paid sick leave must be reinstated to employees rehired within nine months.

Employers must allow employees to use their paid sick leave for their own or a family member’s mental or physical illness or injury (including diagnosis and treatment) or for preventative care.  Leave may also be used if a place of business or child care is closed by order of a public health official or an employee or family member must stay home by order of a public health official due to exposure to a communicable disease, even if the employee or family member does not have the disease.

Leave may also be used for time off needed relating to the employee’s or a family member’s domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse, or stalking if the leave is for medical attention, counseling services, services from a domestic violence or sexual violence or similar program, legal services, or the relocation or securing safety at an existing home.

A “family member” includes children (regardless of age), parents, spouses/domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, etc.  Family includes biological, step-, adopted, foster, or similar relationships and also includes “any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” regardless of whether there is a legal familial relationship.

Employees may request sick leave orally, in writing, electronically, or by other methods if approved by the employer.  Employees must try to schedule foreseeable leave when it does not unduly disrupt the company’s operations and provide advance notice and include the duration of the leave, if known.  Employers can establish written procedures for providing notice relating to unforeseeable leave.

Employers may request certification relating to an absences of three days or more.  A simple statement that leave was needed is all that is required and an employer cannot request additional details.  All information obtained about an employee or family members’ medical condition or history or facts relating to them being a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, etc. must be treated as confidential.

In addition to sick leave provided under Arizona law, an employer covered by the FMLA may be required to allow an employee up to 12 unpaid work weeks of time off for certain family and medical reasons during a 12-month period and up to 26 weeks off to care for a military servicemember injured in the line of duty while on active duty.

If the employer does elect to adopt a policy providing for sick days, it should have a policy that clearly states the requirements for sick days and/or pay for sick days.  The policy must be communicated to all employees.  A sample Sick day policy can be found at the end of this chapter. As with policies regarding vacation and personal days, a sick day policy should address the following areas:

•     eligibility for sick days

•     accrual of sick days

•     limitations on taking sick days

•     pay for sick days.

An employer should be aware that the FLSA generally prohibits employers from docking the pay of an exempt employee (for example, a professional or managerial employee who is not subject to work hour restrictions or eligible for overtime pay) who is absent from work due to sickness, unless there is a plan such as a short-term disability policy or sick leave policy under which the employee receives pay during the absence or the absence qualifies as FMLA leave.

An employer covered by the FMLA should also be aware of the interaction between the FMLA and the sick leave policy.  For instance, if requirements for taking sick leave are less stringent than those for taking FMLA leave, the FMLA regulations provide that the less stringent requirements of the sick leave policy control.  Advice from an employment attorney should be sought if an employer has questions about how its sick leave policy interacts with the FMLA.

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