Having a baby, caring for a sick family member, and taking time off for medical reasons are all situations in which an employee might request leave. But are they eligible for a leave of absence under FMLA in Arizona? And do any state leave laws apply?
Because FMLA is a federal law, Arizona employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave if they meet the eligibility requirements. Since Arizona doesn’t have any paid leave laws, they aren’t entitled to paid leave unless their employee benefits package provides it.
Let’s take a look at FMLA in Arizona, including how it works, who is eligible, and which qualifying reasons entitle an employee to FMLA leave.
What Is FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 and extends protections to eligible employees in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It allows employees to keep their health insurance while on leave and return to the same job or another role that’s substantially equivalent in pay, hours, and benefits.
FMLA doesn’t mandate any pay during the leave period, but employees may be entitled to use any accrued personal leave or paid time off while on FMLA leave.
In any single 12-month period, employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (or 26 workweeks of leave to care for a covered service member). They can also request intermittent leave or reduced work hours if their medical condition requires it.
Who Is Eligible for FMLA in Arizona?
Employees are protected under FMLA in Arizona, just as they are in any other state. But not all employees will meet the eligibility requirements. Small employers aren’t bound by FMLA, and seasonal or temp workers may not put in enough hours to qualify.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #28 at DOL.gov, employees must meet the following criteria to be covered by FMLA in Arizona:
- Have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months
- Have performed at least 1,250 hours of work over the past year
- Be employed at a location with at least 50 employees within 75 miles
The 12 months of employment don’t have to be consecutive, so a seasonal employee could become eligible after multiple periods of work with the same employer.
Which Employers Are Bound by FMLA in Arizona?
Not every business in Arizona is bound by FMLA. The Family and Medical Leave Act applies to “covered employers” who fall into one of three categories:
- Private-sector companies with a workforce of 50 employees or more
- Public and private schools at both the elementary and secondary level
- Government agencies, including local, state, and federal agencies
Arizona employers with less than 50 employees aren’t required to provide FMLA leave, but they may still be bound by other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). These federal laws may entitle an employee to leave or accommodation due to pregnancy or a disability.
Some employees may also have access to paid leave benefits at the local level. For example, the City of Phoenix has introduced paid parental leave to city employees. Eligible employees can request up to 480 hours of leave in a 12-month period.
What Situations Qualify for FMLA in Arizona?
The Family and Medical Leave Act covers many common scenarios, including the birth of a child and treatment for a serious health condition. But when an employee requests leave, they may not even be aware that their situation qualifies them for FMLA.
It’s up to the employer to ensure that each leave request is categorized appropriately, and counted towards their total leave balance.
An employee may qualify for FMLA in Arizona for any of the following reasons.
Arizona is one of a handful of states that mandates paid sick leave, with employees accruing one hour of sick leave for 30 hours of work. However, they can only use a maximum of 40 hours in a calendar year (24 for small employers), so it’s primarily applicable to occasional short-term conditions.
FMLA is intended for ongoing or chronic conditions, such as a serious illness that requires regular medical care. Although it isn’t paid, employees can take up to 12 workweeks of leave to care for themselves or a seriously ill family member.
Employees can also request FMLA for mental health conditions such as severe anxiety, or for prenatal care related to a pregnancy. Employees should request leave 30 days in advance, but this requirement can be waived for urgent or unexpected conditions.
The employee may be required to provide evidence of their medical condition in the form of a certification from their health care provider. They’ll keep their group health insurance benefits while on leave, as long as they pay their share of the premium.
If the employee draws from their accrued leave balance while on FMLA leave, this should be counted concurrently, not consecutively.
Another qualifying scenario under FMLA in Arizona is parental leave. Although Arizona doesn’t have a paid parental leave program, new parents are entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA within the first year of the child’s arrival. This applies to:
- The placement of a child in foster care
FMLA is gender-neutral, so any new parent can take a full 12 weeks of leave, unless both parents work for the same employer — in which case they have to share it.
Parental leave doesn’t apply to the pregnancy period itself, but if the employee or the employee’s spouse needs medical attention or is incapacitated due to the pregnancy, they can request FMLA leave for medical reasons.
Some employers offer their own paid leave benefits, which may exceed an employee’s rights under FMLA in Arizona. Additionally, federal employees get paid parental leave under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) program.
Military caregiver leave is the only category of FMLA leave that entitles employees to a longer leave period: up to 26 weeks to care for an ill or injured service member.
The service member can be on active duty or a veteran, but they must be an immediate family member, such as the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin, and they must have incurred their illness or injury while on duty. This extends to mental health conditions like PTSD that arose after the completion of their service.
Separately, military family members in Arizona can take qualifying exigency leave under FMLA, but this covers situations related to a deployment, not an illness, such as:
- Attending military ceremonies or informational events
- Arranging for childcare or enrolling a child in a new school
- Making financial arrangements
- Attending counseling
Some qualifying exigencies have a specific time allotment (i.e., up to 15 days to spend time with a service member on Rest and Recuperation), but the maximum of 12 weeks in a 12-month period for any FMLA-qualifying reason still applies.
Simplify FMLA Leave Requests With Pulpstream
Parental leave, medical leave, and military caregiver leave all have their own eligibility requirements and leave entitlements. It can be hard enough for employees to navigate their own leave situation without having to worry about getting the paperwork right.
With Pulpstream, you can digitize the entire leave of absence process, making it easier for employees to track their leave balance and upload medical certifications. Plus, your human resources team can easily assess each leave request and ensure that you’re meeting all of your legal requirements under FMLA in Arizona.
Our drag-and-drop interface means you can get started without having to rebuild your whole workflow or write a line of code. Request a demo today to learn more!