On August 8, the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) held a public hearing 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 questions of the panel about the ICA’s interpretation of the law. The panel consisted of representatives from the ICA, including Labor Department Director Steve Welker. Here’s a summary of what was 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 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 which 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: Is there specific guidance the ICA has 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 while an employer may provide “equivalent paid time off”, such as PTO, to employees, of which part would be allocated for the provided uses of PST, the ICA recommends that employers clearly document their policy with respect to equivalent paid time off and PST to ensure employees fully understand their entitlement to PST as part of the equivalent paid time off 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.