Arizona and Washington State Pass Paid Sick Leave Mandates

Arizona and Washington State Pass Paid Sick Leave Mandates

Last week’s elections across the US brought major changes to the law in several states as voters passed referenda raising the minimum wage and legalizing either medicinal or recreational use of marijuana, both of which have consequences for employers. In addition to these, Arizona and Washington voted to join the small but growing number of states that require employers to provide paid sick leave. SHRM’s Lisa Nagele-Piazza gives an overview of what these states’ referenda mean for employers:

Beginning on July 1, 2017, businesses in Arizona with 15 or more employees must provide workers with up to 40 hours of accrued annual paid sick leave. Businesses with fewer employees will have to provide 24 hours. In each scenario, employees will accrue the time at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked until they reach the cap. …

Beginning in January 2018, employees in Washington state will accrue an hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work. Employees may use the time to address their own or a family member’s medical care, to cover lost wages if the employee’s place of business or a child’s school closes for health-related reasons, or for domestic violence issues. They will also be entitled to carry over up to 40 hours of accrued but unused leave to the next year.

While employers may view paid sick leave mandates as another onerous regulatory burden, keeping employees out of the office when they’re sick has numerous benefits, and recent research has found that cities with mandatory sick leave policies saw significant decreases in flu cases after introducing the mandate. As for the cost to employers, another paper found that New York City’s 2013 law, which requires that private companies or nonprofit organizations with five or more employees provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, had a negligible impact on business costs, productivity, and customer service.