Maternity and paternity leave in Arizona is a hit or miss experience.
About half of parents qualify for FMLA, which means they can take off 12 weeks and return to the same or similar job at the same pay scale. The other half have no legal safeguards at all and must rely on the policies established by their employer.
However, most of this time off from work is unpaid.
FMLA does not require income continuation, and most employers do not offer this benefit. Also, AZ does not provide paid family leave like its neighbor to the west. However, the paid sick leave law helps a little but caps the number of hours at 40 – or 1 week out of 12.
Arizona Paid Time Off Laws
Several Arizona paid time off laws offer little financial help to parents taking paternity and maternity leave. In general, most new mothers and fathers must forgo at least one income while they bond with the newborn baby.
Making a family budget fit is very hard when you lose income just as your expenses spike with medical bills and baby items. Therefore, look under every possible rock for help.
Government financial assistance programs may help you survive during unpaid maternity leave and typically fall into two categories.
First, some states have initiatives that replace a portion of income while parents bond with their newborn baby. However, these opportunities are unavailable in Arizona.
Second, a variety of federal welfare programs can help mothers and fathers pay their bills during the time they are off from work. Plus, lost earnings boost your eligibility for income-based supports.
Paid Family Leave
Arizona does not have a paid family leave law supporting people who work in the state. New parents will have to find an alternative way to afford their time off from work.
Do not feel left out, as only six other states offer paid family leave to parents working in the private industry.
Residents who commute to work in California qualify for the CA paid family leave program plus SDI for mothers. Parents living in border cities such as Yuma, Ehrenberg, Parker, Desert Hills, and Fort Mohave could tap into these state benefits.
Short-term disability for pregnancy in Arizona provides partially paid time off for mothers who purchased a policy before conception. AZ does not have a law (unlike California) that automatically covers workers in private industry and public service.
- State employees have the option to sign up during their annual open enrollment. Visit the ADOA website for details.
- Workers in private industry can enroll voluntarily at work if their employer offers the benefit. Only worksite-based policies cover mom’s recovery from normal labor and delivery.
When bought before conception, short-term disability replaces a portion of income for a variety of issues that can cause missed work before, during, and after typical maternity leave.
- Complications of pregnancy before your due date
- Recovery from childbirth (worksite only)
- Postpartum medical problems
Attempting to collect unemployment is unlikely to yield paid time off during paternity or maternity leave. Arizona law requires that applicants be physically able and available to work to qualify – in addition to being unemployed.
However, those who lose their job while at home may be eligible for unemployment benefits after they are ready to resume working.
- Physically able: mom recovers from childbirth
- Available: caretaking duties for your infant end (find childcare)
The unemployment law in AZ spells out several viable “Good Cause Reasons” for a voluntary quit that can apply to many new parents.
- Resigned to take care of a small child or newborn baby
- Quit because of the illness of a spouse or child (wife with a high-risk pregnancy, or sick baby)
- Left because your work became too difficult due to your pregnancy
Paid Sick Leave
The Arizona Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act entitles employees to accrue earned paid sick time. Under the law, employees can use earned paid sick time during paternity or maternity leave under many qualifying reasons.
- Medical care for the mother or baby
- Mental illness such as postpartum depression
- Physical illness of mom (pregnancy issues) or an infant (low birth weight)
- Health condition of a family member (father’s care of a spouse or premature infant)
Keep in mind the Federal and state government employers are exempt from this requirement. However, government entities usually have generous benefits policies such as paid time off for sicknesses and other health conditions.
Also, consider that the paid sick leave law caps the number of hours that can accrue based on the number of co-workers you have (unless your employer sets a higher limit).
- More than 15 employees: 40-hour max
- Less than 15 employees: 24-hour ceiling
Family Medical Leave Act in Arizona
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary law governing unpaid time off for parents in Arizona. The FMLA is a federal regulation that applies to employers and workers across the nation. AZ does not have a separate rule expanding access or extending the duration of benefits.
FMLA provides three fundamental legal rights to those who meet specific criteria.
- Take unpaid job-protected leave without interference, restraint, or retaliation
- Have group health insurance maintained under the same terms and conditions
- Restored to the same or an equivalent position after the 12 weeks
The qualifying criteria for FMLA determine how long maternity or paternity leave lasts in Arizona. Eligible people working for a covered employer get 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected time off from work. However, those ineligible or working for a non-covered employer receive 0 weeks of legal protection.
- Covered employers have 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius
- Qualified workers logged 1,250 hours in the last 12 months of continuous service
New parents who meet these criteria can take the 12 weeks during any set of 12 months for any of these reasons.
- Birth and care of the employee’s child, within one year of birth
- Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, within one year of the placement
- Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition
- For the employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
Workers in Arizona use the same FMLA forms as everyone else across the country. The federal government does not create a separate document for each state in the country because the rules are uniform.
The US Department of Labor publishes and hosts a variety of applicable FMLA forms, which you can easily download, print, fill out, sign, and then submit to your employer before taking paternity or maternity leave.
- WH-380-E: Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition
- WH-380-F: Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition