California law provides employees with several different types of protected time-off. It is important that employers know that employees may be permitted to take time-off in certain situations and what those situations are. Employers could face liability through a retaliation claim if employees are wrongfully disciplined or discharged when they ask for and/or take protected time-off. The DLSE website provides a description of many of the protected leaves found in the Labor Code, as well as other anti-retaliation provisions: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileLinkCodeSections.htm.
One such leave provision is the School Activities Leave, found at Labor Code section 230.8. The law was amended in 2015 to expand the scope of who could take time-off and for what purposes. Under this statute, employees are entitled to take unpaid time-off from work to participate in their child’s school activities, as stated below. This protected time-off is available for employees who work at a location with 25 or more employees. The employee taking School Activities Leave must be a parent, grandparent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, or person who stands in loco parentis to a child of the age to attend kindergarten through grade 12, or at a licensed child care provider.
Use of School Activities Leave
Employees may take up to 40 hours of School Activities Leave each year to participate in the following child-related activities:
- To participate in activities of the school or licensed child care provider of a child;
- To find, enroll, or re-enroll a child in a school or with a licensed child care provider; or
- To address a “child care provider or school emergency,” as defined.
“Child care provider or school emergency” means that an employee’s child cannot remain in a school or with a child care provider due to one of the following reasons:
- The school or child care provider has requested that the child be picked up, or has an attendance policy, excluding planned holidays, that prohibits the child from attending or requires the child to be picked up from the school or child care provider;
- Behavioral or discipline problems;
- Closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or child care provider, excluding planned holidays; or
- A natural disaster, including, but not limited to fire, earthquake or flood.
Time-off to participate in school or child care activities or to find, enroll, or re-enroll in school or child care (items 1 and 2, above) is limited to 8 hours per month and the employer can require reasonable notice of the planned absence. Employees can be required to use vacation, personal leave or compensatory time for planned absences under this section. Employers can also require a note from the school or child care provider that shows an employee participated in a covered activity (with date and time). Finally, if both parents are employed by the same employer at the same work site, the parent who first gives notice to the employer has priority for the planned absence, though both may participate if the employer approves.
Employers with questions about School Activities Leave or other time-off protected by California law should consult qualified legal counsel. School Activities Leave will be discussed during tomorrow’s (Dec. 8, 2016) California webinar: California Employee Rights Relating to Pregnancy, Parenting and Family Issues. To register, please click here.