The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) held a public hearing on August 8 on its proposed rules under Arizona’s new paid sick time (PST) law of the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. Those who attended had an opportunity to ask ICA representatives, including Labor Department Director Steve Welker, questions about the ICA’s interpretation of the law. Here’s a summary of information shared during the hearing:
Question: If an employer provided more than the required amount of PST to employees at the beginning of this year and employees used some or all of that time before July 1, 2017 (the effective date of the law) and now have less than the number of hours of PST that the employee would accrue for the remainder of the year, is the employer required to provide those employees, through accrual or frontloading, additional PST after July 1?
Answer: Yes. The employer’s obligation to provide either front loaded or accrued PST began July 1, 2017, regardless of whether paid sick time was provided to employees before July 1.
Question: Are employers required to let employees use PST for scheduled working time outside of the employee’s regularly scheduled shift, including scheduled overtime?
Answer: Yes. Employees may use PST for all scheduled time that they are unable to work. The panel also clarified that employees may use PST for scheduled “call in” time they are unable to work.
Question: Can employers adopt a policy that requires employees to use all paid time off (i.e., sick time and vacation time) before taking unpaid time?
Answer: The panel acknowledged that the law, proposed rules, and answers to FAQs do not address this issue. They committed to considering the issue in the future.
Question: Does the ICA have specific guidance for employers who opt to provide equivalent paid time off to employees, which would include PST, to meet the requirements of the law?
Answer: The panel noted that an employer may give employees “equivalent paid time off,” such as PTO, part of which would be allocated for the provided uses of PST. However, the ICA recommends employers clearly document their policies with respect to equivalent PTO and PST to ensure employees fully understand their entitlement to PST as part of the equivalent PTO benefit and that employers obtain acknowledgement from employees of the documented policy.
Learn more about the ICA’s interpretation of the new PST law here.