Arizona is among a handful of states that has a paid sick leave law. The Fair Wages and Healthy Family Act was passed in 2017. Until recently, it was the only protection that Arizonans had when it came to sick leave. However, in response to the novel Coronavirus, President Trump also recently signed a national paid sick leave law – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. A large percentage of Americans have been temporarily or indefinitely put on a leave of absence and each of these laws offer workers financial help through this pandemic.
Under the Arizona Act, paid sick leave is required by all employers for full, part-time or temporary employees. Additionally, union workers who were under a bargaining agreement prior to the Act’s effective date may not be covered.
The Arizona Act requires employers with fewer than 15 employees to provide at least 24 hours of annual paid sick leave time and employers with 15 or more employees must provide at least 40 hours of annual paid sick leave time.
The Arizona Act allows for employers to be flexible and give the full allotment of paid sick leave even if employees are still in their 90-day grace period. Employees can also use their sick leave if they feel they may have been exposed and need to take some time to get tested for the novel Coronavirus. Likewise, if an employee has a family member who has fallen ill with COVID-19, they can also use sick leave and be covered under the Arizona Act. This also extends if the employee needs to take time off to get that family member tested.
In Arizona, parents can also use their sick leave if their children are forced to stay home due to schools closing—such is the case by the recent mandate issued by Gov. Doug Ducey amid fears that children could increase the spread of COVID-19. It can also be used during times when a public official forces a business to close due to a health crisis.
Employees do not need to give any formal notice of leave according to the Arizona Act and can request it via phone, email or in person.
The paid-sick leave law does allow some wiggle room. For example, some employers might require employees to allocate some vacation days to their time off on sick leave. Employers also have the option to combine all the possible days for paid time off, including vacation and other personal leave. The Arizona Act does not cover independent contractors, freelancers, babysitters, writers on contracts and those who are self-employed.
Starting April 3, everyone can benefit from the new federal paid sick leave law.
Now, those who were not covered prior to COVID-19 will be able to take sick leave for two weeks maximum with their normal pay up to $511 per day. Additionally, if an employee must take time off to stay home with a child because of school cancellations, they are able to stay at home for 12 weeks while being compensated two-thirds of their normal salary up to $200 per day.
To fund this massive program, a tax credit is given to employers against the 6.2% payroll tax. If the percentage amount is greater, the government will reimburse the employer and self-employed independent contractors can receive a tax credit as well.
With many people out of work currently due to COVID-19, the new bill also gives a 90 day extension to pay 2019 taxes in addition to the normal deadline of April 15.
Employers and their employees are venturing into uncharted territory in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As restaurants, bars and retail shops close, there is a heightened worry for those who work for tips and minimum wage. Torn between keeping workers healthy and reducing loss of revenue, the business complications of the pandemic stretch far beyond just the corporate world.
Jonathan Frutkin is the founder and principal of Radix Law. The company focuses on providing general counsel, including legal advice on capital formation, mergers and acquisitions, litigation strategy and intellectual property. You can find more information at radixlaw.com.