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