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LAW

Jodi Bohr

John Alan Doran

Robert K. Jones

such as the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act and much more.” Bohr says another confusing aspect is the requirement that employers must allow employees to carry over up to 40 hours (24 hours for small businesses) of unused paid sick time from the previous year, continue to accrue up to 40 hours the next year, all while limiting paid sick time use to 40 hours per year. And Robert G. Vaught, a partner at Quarles & Brady, says employers cannot require an employee to provide documents supporting their request to take paid sick time (like a doctor’s note) unless the employee uses earned paid sick time on three or more consecutive work days. Even then, the employer can only request “reasonable documentation.”

Jessica L. Post

Nonnie L. Shivers

“But what is ‘reasonable’ can be subject to interpretation,” Vaught says. And the questions and confusion continues. “For employees who don’t earn a regular salary or hourly wage — such as commissioned or production-based employees or employees who earn shift differentials or other variable sums — determining the amount of pay due for a given day or hour off of work could be fairly subjective,” says Robert K. Jones, principal at Jackson Lewis. “There will also be many issues to sort out regarding the antiretaliation provisions, such as whether a more generous PTO policy will allow job protection to employees who take paid sick leave after exhausting their regular vacation time.” Jones says employers need to discuss the requirements and gray areas of the law with a knowledgeable advisor to come up with a

Robert G. Vaught

David Villadolid

plan and written policy that is tailored to their particular business circumstances. But with more gray areas than a barber shop in a retirement community, what is an employer supposed to do to make sure they are compliant with Arizona’s Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act? “Other than out and out prayer, the best advice is to think of the new Arizona paid leave benefit as a separate bucket, even if the paid leave benefit is woven into other leave benefits,” Doran says. “The Arizona paid leave requirements cover situations that are, in some meaningful respects, different from those under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and/or the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act. Employers will need to evaluate each leave event within the separate buckets of the separate laws. This is no easy feat.”

ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES Here is advice from labor and employment experts on how to deal with the paid sick time piece of Arizona’s Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act:

the ICA over time, or even through the courts, but employers should endeavor to avoid legal risk by creating as compliant a plan as possible.”

Robert K. Jones, principal, Jackson Lewis: “While the statute is deceptively simple in its grant of an entitlement to a modest amount of paid sick leave, the implementation will be different for every employer. Only by thinking through the options permitted by the statute in advance and drafting a tailored policy will there be any assurance that the employer will fully comply with the law and avoid unanticipated liabilities.”

David Villadolid, shareholder, Burch & Cracchiolo: “If a business owner already provides vacation, sick leave or other paid time off to employees, the employer may not have to add additional time off to comply with the new statute. You may be able to revise existing policies so that they comply with the new statute.”

Nonnie L. Shivers, shareholder, Ogletree Deakins: “Employers should keep an eye on informal guidance and upcoming regulations from the Industrial Commission of Arizona to ensure they remain up to date on new and emerging advice on how to stay compliant. There are many unknowns with the law that will be answered through

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Robert G. Vaught, partner, Quarles & Brady: “Review your existing PTO policies to determine whether they need to be revised to comply with the Act’s requirements or whether you need to create an entirely new policy. Train managers and benefits personnel to make sure they understand how to evaluate leave requests and what kind of documentation they can — and cannot — ask an employee to provide.”

AzBusiness magazine July/August 2017  

Don’t miss reading about this year’s class of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business. This issue spotlights the people and associati...