In the state of Arizona, the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) functions as the state’s department of labor. Originally formed in 1925 to regulate and enforce the state’s workers compensation program, the ICA has evolved over the years to cover four major areas of employment law:

  • Minimum wage and earned paid sick time enforcement
  • Wage dispute resolution
  • Child labor law enforcement
  • Workers compensation

Minimum Wage and Earned Paid Sick Time Enforcement

As the state of Arizona dictates a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, enforcement falls upon the ICA rather than the US Department of Labor. Employees who do not receive the current minimum wage may file a wage complaint (see the next section on wage dispute resolution for details). The ICA has the authority to order payment of unpaid wages and impose fines on Arizona employers who do not pay the state minimum wage.

In 2016, passage of the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act (FWHFA) brought earned paid sick time under the ICA’s jurisdiction. As with minimum wage disputes, employees can file a complaint with the ICA for disputes regarding earned paid sick time. Based on the subsequent investigation, the ICA can impose fines on non-compliant employers in Arizona.

Wage Dispute Resolution

Employees with $5,000 or less in unpaid wages accumulated over one year or less can file a wage claim with the ICA (ARS 23-350 et seq).

The ICA will launch an investigation into the case and provide a written Determination. Upon receiving a Determination, the employer has ten days to comply with the order or appeal to the state Superior Court. Failure to comply within ten days triples the value of the Determination (referred to as treble damages), so most employers choose to comply rather than take the issue to court.

Youth Employment Law Enforcement

Arizona’s child labor laws (ARS 23-230 et seq) dictate the jobs children are eligible to hold and the hours they’re permitted to work. The ICA enforces these laws by investigating public tips, inter-agency tips, and claims of workplace injuries involving minors. The ICA has the authority to fine employers for violating Arizona child labor laws. 

Note that there are federal laws regarding child labor, notably the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Federal child labor violations are investigated by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), not the ICA. In cases where federal and state child labor laws overlap, the more stringent law applies, and jurisdiction would be granted based on that determination. 

Workers Compensation

Arizona employs a “no fault” workers’ compensation system where injured workers receive medical and compensation benefits regardless of who caused the job-related incident. As long as the injury or illness is job-related, the injured worker is eligible to receive medical benefits and temporary compensation. In some cases, injured workers may be eligible to receive permanent compensation benefits and job retraining.

The ICA Claims Division regulates insurance carriers and self-insured employers who file injured worker claims, and ensures eligible employees receive their benefits under Arizona workers compensation laws. The ICA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Division resolves legal disputes arising from workers compensation cases. Examples of ALJ matters include loss of earning capacity, reopening claims, supportive care and continuing benefits.

Minimum Wage Laws

Arizona is one of 29 states that impose a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage. In fact, Arizona is one of the few states with an actively increasing minimum wage. Currently set at $11 an hour, the state minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $12 an hour on January 1, 2020.

Learn more about the Arizona minimum wage laws.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

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