A new paid sick-leave law took effect Saturday in Arizona, which joins a cluster of other states in continuing momentum on an issue that has seen broadening political support.
Measures adopted across the nation typically require a minimum number of paid sick hours or days each year and often mandate other guidelines in terms of permissible reasons for leave and record-keeping duties for employers.
A required minimum of 40 hours a year has become fairly standard.
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Arizona's new law is one of the toughest. It prohibits retaliation against workers seeking to exercise their rights, mandates that some unused sick leave may be carried over to a new year and applies to just about all workers, including temporary, seasonal and part-time staff.
The Arizona law also provides sick leave for a range of issues beyond actual illness such as routine doctor's visits or even seeking legal or other help to deal with sexual abuse, domestic violence or stalkers.
There are reasons why many Americans, and lawmakers, are looking beyond politics in supporting these measures.
"You probably don't want someone who prepares your food to go to work sick," said Rachel Deutsch, a senior staff attorney for the New York-based Center for Popular Democracy, a group that has pushed for sick-leave laws, including the one that Arizona voters approved last November. "There's a strong public-health rationale."
While employer groups often oppose these measures — Arizona's law had to survive a legal challenge that went to the state's Supreme Court — the business community hasn't been uniformly opposed.
"This has become more of a bipartisan issue — something that the American public wants," said Bryan Hum, an associate at the ERISA Industry Committee in Washington, D.C. "This is a year of paid sick leave."
His group advocates on behalf of large employers on public policies dealing with health care, retirement and compensation issues. Member companies, with 10,000 or more workers, already typically provide paid sick leave. Rather, the committee tracks these measures primarily to make sure the laws are reasonably consistent so that big employers don't need to deal with a "patchwork" of regulations, Hum said.