Being a working parent is challenging, but California law provides some help. There are legal protections for employees who are parents of school-aged children and are juggling the demands of school issues and work. Here’s a look at the legal protections and what employers are required to provide.
An employer with 25 or more employees at the same location can’t fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee who is a parent of a child of the age to attend kindergarten through 12th grade for taking off up to 40 hours each year to either (Lab C §230.8(a)(1)):
- Put a child in school or participate in school activities. Parents may find, enroll, or reenroll the child in a school or with a licensed child care provider, or participate in school (or child care provider) activities, if the employee, before taking the time off, gives the employer “reasonable notice” of the planned absence. Time off for these reasons may not exceed 8 hours in any calendar month of the year.
- Deal with emergencies. When school or child care provider emergencies arise, the employee make take time off after giving notice to the employer.
The term “parent” in this context means a parent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent of, or a person who stand in loco parentis to, a child. Lab C §230.8(e)(1). An “emergency” means that the employee’s child can’t stay in school or at the child care provider because (Lab C §230.8(e)(2))
- The school or provider either has requested that the child be picked up or has an attendance policy that prohibits the child from attending or requires that he or she be picked up;
- There is a behavioral or disciplinary problem;
- There is a closure or the school or provider is unexpectedly unavailable; or
- There has been a natural disaster (e.g., fire, earthquake, or flood).
If both parents work for the same employer at the same location, only the parent who first gives notice is entitled to take this leave, although the other parent may do so with the employer’s approval. Lab C §230.8(a)(2).
And the employer can always require the employee to get documentation from the school as proof that he or she participated in permitted activities on a specific date and at a particular time. Lab C §230.8(c).
How is this leave counted? Generally, the employee must use existing vacation, personal leave, or paid time off (PTO) to participate in activities of the child’s school or day care facility, although the employee may also use unpaid time off if the employer provides it. Note that a collective bargaining agreement can provide otherwise, but if it was agreed to on or after January 1, 1995, it can’t lessen this leave entitlement. Lab C §230.8(b)(1).
For more on leaves for participation in school activities, as well as many other types of employee leaves, turn to CEB’s award-winning book Employee Leave Laws: Compliance and Litigation, chap 2.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- Employee Leave Law F.A.Q.s
- Do CA Employers Have to Give Bereavement Leave?
- 2 Rules of Thumb for Employee Leave Requests
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