Arizona Sick Leave Law and Minimum Wage Increase

arizona sick leave lawThe Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act is a key piece of legislation that affects Arizona employment law.  This blogpost will provide a broad overview of the Act and what it entails.

The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act (the “Act”) was voted into law by Proposition 206 on November 8, 2016.  The Act raised the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour.  This was effective on January 1, 2017.  The Act requires employers to provide earned paid sick time benefits to all Arizona employees effective July 1, 2017. The Industrial Commission of Arizona has the authority to enforce the Act.

The Act can be found in Arizona Revised Statute Section 23-371.  The Act applies to all private and public employers in Arizona, but does not apply to the United States government or the State of Arizona government.

Minimum Wage Increase

Prior to 2016, the minimum wage in Arizona was in $8.05 per hour.  The federal minimum wage in contrast is $7.25 an hour.  The Act tiered an increase in minimum wage:

  • $10 in 2017
  • $10.50 in 2018
  • $11.00 in 2019
  • $12 in 2020

In 2021, the measure will increase to coincide with the cost of living.

Sick Time and Definition of Family Member

The Act requires all employers to provide 40 hours of paid sick time each year to their employees to care for themselves ro a family member.  An employer is required to provide 24 hours of paid sick time to employees if they have 15 or fewer employees.

The Act provided for a definition of “family member”. Family member under the act can include the following:

  • Spouse or registered domestic partner
  • child , foster child, adopted child, stepchild, legal ward, a child of a domestic partner
  • biological , foster, stepparent, or adoptive parent or legal guardian of an employee or an employee’s spouse or domestic partner
  • Grandparents, grandchild, sibling of the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner
  • Any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship

This a broad interpretation of the word “family member” and allows employees the ability to take the time to care for those who are close and may not fall under the definition of biological family member.

Employer Notice Requirements

An employer is required to give employees a written notice of their rights under the Act.  This includes an explanation of what employees are entitled to under sick time leave and the amount earned.  It also includes that retaliation against employees who request or take sick time is prohibited. Employees are allows to file a complaint if they are denied sick time by an employer.  Lastly, the notice includes contact information for the Industrial Commission of Arizona, the enforcement wing of the law.

What Sick Time Can be Used For

We know who the sick time can be used for, but what constitutes sick time?

The Act specifies a number of situations including:

  • Employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment; an employee’s need for preventive medical care
  • Care of family member for the same treatment, mental or physical illness including time for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment and preventive care
  • Closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public health official due to a public health emergency or the employee’s need to care for a child whose school is under a public health emergency
  • Care for oneself or family member if it is determined by the health authorities that the person poses a risk to the community because of a communicable disease

This is not an exhaustive list.  Please look at the Act to see the full number of situations where sick paid time can be used.

Click here for additional information on Arizona paid sick leave.