Fitzgibbons Law Offices - Casa Grande and Maricopa Lawyers



Nick Cook, Casa Grande Business Attorney


Fitzgibbons Law Offices
1115 E. Cottonwood Lane
Suite 150
Casa Grande, AZ 85122

Employment Law

April 2018

Can Arizona Employers Require a Doctor’s Note from a Sick Employee?

Under Arizona’s paid sick leave statute, whether a worker is required to show evidence that they were sick depends on how many consecutive days of work they missed.

Missing time from work due to illness is not only unpleasant for the employee; it can also be disruptive and expensive for his or her employer. Nonetheless, there are limits on what an employer may require from an employee prior to approving their use of earned sick leave or before the employee returns to work.

Employers covered by Arizona law requiring paid sick leave accrual are required to allow employees to accrue earned sick time at a rate of 1-to-30, meaning the employee accrues one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work they perform. The employee, however, may not accrue more than 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, unless the employer allows a higher limit.

Paid Sick Leave Protections

When an employee uses their paid sick leave, they are granted certain protections. Most notably, when an employee takes earned sick leave for a period of less than three consecutive days, their employer cannot require the employee to prove that the paid sick leave was used for a “covered purpose” – e.g., mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, and the need for medical diagnosis of those conditions. Further covered is the present or preventive care for any family member with a condition.

The rules change when earned sick leave is used for three or more consecutive days. In such a case, employers are allowed to require reasonable documentation establishing that the time was used properly. In no scenario, though, may an employer require documentation describing or establishing the nature of a health condition. In many situations, reasonable documentation may be established by providing a document signed by a health care professional indicating that the use of paid sick leave time was necessary.

Both employers and employees should be aware of a fine line that, when the paid sick leave covers less than three straight days, separates “requesting” documentation and “requiring” it. The law does not prohibit an employer from requesting reasonable documentation; employees are simply not required to provide it. Therefore, if an employee uses paid sick leave for only one day, they may be asked to provide documentation, but complying with that request is not a condition for having the paid sick leave approved.

Knowing your rights, as either an employee or an employer, will help provide you with the necessary legal understanding to make an informed decision in the proper use of paid sick leave.