In several states, bills are being passed that require companies to give workers paid sick days, whether to care for themselves or someone else. Several big companies have adopted this policy as well; Chipotle, McDonalds, Microsoft, and others are providing paid sick and vacation days for their employees. The issue of whether employers should be required to offer paid sick leave is a polarizing debate, to say the least.
Some companies look at the additional cost as a way to retain valuable employees. And overall, most Americans think paid sick leave is a good idea; a recent New York Times and CBS News poll found that 85% of Americans polled agree that employers should offer paid sick leave to employees. However, paid sick leave is not without costs, and that money has to come from somewhere, sometimes from employers having to decrease employees’ wages.
Here in Arizona, mandated paid sick leave will not be a reality anytime soon. In fact, Arizona was one of 11 states to ban municipalities from passing paid sick leave laws.
Sick leave is not the same as family medical leave. Under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a “covered employee” who meets certain criteria is able to take off 12 weeks of unpaid time in any 12 month period to care for themselves, certain family members, or to give birth or adopt a child. A covered employee cannot be fired for taking the protected time off, and the protected time off cannot be counted against the employee for any reason. Although FMLA is unpaid, employees may use sick or vacation days provided by their employer.
If you or someone you know has faced disciplinary action or termination while on protected FMLA leave, or if you were denied leave, speak with an Arizona labor law attorney. No one should have to choose between taking care of their health and keeping their job.
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