It’s been four years since Arizona’s Honest Wages and Wholesome Households Act went into impact. Whereas the Act’s preliminary passage created a good quantity of stress and confusion, most employers consider they’ve gotten the technical points of earned paid sick time (EPST) beneath management. Lately, nevertheless, employers have seen an uptick in claims by workers alleging their rights beneath the Act have been violated and/or they had been retaliated towards for utilizing sick go away.
The Industrial Fee of Arizona (ICA) investigates claims of noncompliance and retaliation pertaining to EPST. If a violation is discovered, the enforcement rules say:
- Employers could be topic to fines, monitoring, and inspections.
- They should repay workers for any sick pay denied, together with curiosity, and an extra quantity of twice the withheld wages.
Furthermore, if the ICA determines a retaliation, discrimination, confidentiality, or nondisclosure violation has occurred, it may possibly problem penalties, direct the employer to stop and desist from the violation, and require it to rehire or reinstate the worker.
In defending towards retaliation claims involving EPST, the employer faces a comparatively excessive burden of proof beneath the Act: For any hostile employment motion (e.g., a termination) that happens inside 90 days of an worker taking paid sick go away, it’s presumed to be retaliatory and could be overcome solely by clear and convincing proof the motion was taken for causes aside from retaliation. To be clear, when the ICA is investigating a declare, it should ask for and anticipate employers to supply the proof.
What Employers Can Do
Given the current enhance in claims, compliance with the Act stays important. The excellent news is there’s a seemingly easy step you’ll be able to take to assist defend a declare (if and when one is filed): documentation! Listed here are some examples you should use:
Attendance insurance policies. As famous within the ICA itself and additional defined within the Act’s steadily requested questions, you should still maintain workers accountable for attendance. A written coverage ought to define your expectations for workers on how one can report an absence. For those who deny paid sick go away or take hostile motion towards a person for not following your coverage, the next steps are key:
- It’s essential to even have a written coverage in place.
- The coverage have to be in keeping with the ICA’s steering.
- It’s essential to constantly implement it with all workers.
- Any violations ought to be clearly documented.
Progressive self-discipline. In defending an EPST retaliation declare, even when the efficiency problem or violation of firm coverage doesn’t contain attendance, you’ll nonetheless have to submit proof to the ICA to indicate why the hostile motion was taken. The proof can embody disciplinary motion kinds, counseling notices, e-mails, textual content messages, or anything very clearly displaying the motion wasn’t taken as a result of the worker requested or took protected paid sick go away.
One finest apply is to indicate you took progressive disciplinary motion to attempt to tackle an worker’s points earlier than deciding to terminate.
Documentation for terminations. In fact, there are certain to be events when the progressive disciplinary course of merely doesn’t apply. One occasion happens throughout an worker discount in power (RIF).
It ought to appear apparent a RIF has nothing to do with paid sick go away, however you’ll nonetheless be required to show it should you set off the motion inside 90 days of the worker taking the go away. Some examples of applicable documentation would come with:
- Termination kinds,
- Memos from administration to all affected workers, or
- Payroll stories displaying all workers had been affected.
Complying with Arizona’s EPST necessities could be tough enterprise. Even should you’re technically doing the whole lot proper, defending towards workers’ claims could be fairly tough. Ensuring you will have supporting documentation in place can actually assist!
Leigh Anne Ciccarelli, an legal professional with Weiss Brown PLLCin Scottsdale, Arizona, practices employment and labor regulation, helping administration/employers with day-to-day HR points and employment regulation compliance. She additionally frequently supplies coaching for her purchasers on HR finest practices and compliance subjects. You may attain her at email@example.com or 480-327-6681.