Beginning 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.
• Employees must accrue 1 hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked.
• 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. But for employees hired after July 1, 2017, employers can make employees wait 90 days before using PSL.
• Exempt employees must 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 – or, you can pay it out at year-end, provided you dump in at least 40 hours at the beginning of the new year.
We’ve worked with a lot of our clients to implement policies and practices that comply with these requirements, but just to be safe, it’s probably a good time to review.
Please look over the following list and be sure you have taken all of the following recommended actions:
1. Post notices about paid sick leave in the workplace;
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
Take heed of the following on 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.
• Employers can’t use PSL as an absence that leads to discipline.
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.
On August 31, 2017, employees of Kelly Services, Inc., filed a class action lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court against their employer alleging: (1) failure to provide accounting regarding PSL on their paystubs; (2) failure to provide proper accounting regarding PSL on their paystubs; and (3) failure to pay PSL. The case was recently removed to federal court, and the Plaintiffs are seeking millions in damages pursuant to the penalties identified above. Donald Gilbert et al. v. Kelly Services, Inc., Case 2:17-cv-03684-DMF.
If you have any questions regarding PSL, or do not yet have a written policy on PSL, please call any BurnsBarton attorney for assistance.