California Employers — Are You Providing School Activities Leave?

Did you know that in California, companies may be required to grant leave to employees to attend their children’s school activities.

School is back in full swing after the holidays, which also means parent teacher conferences, school assemblies, and other school-related activities are being scheduled.

With employees requesting time off to attend events at their child’s school, California employers may not be aware of two lesser known statutes (California Labor Code sections 230.7 and 230.8) that give parents (and other parental figures) of school-aged children protected time off to attend their child’s related school activities.

Who is a covered employer and employee?

Labor Code section 230.7 applies to all California employers regardless of size.  While Labor Code section 230.8 only applies to employers employing 25 or more employees at a single location.

What is a “parent”?

A “parent” is defined as a natural parent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent of a child of the age to attend kindergarten or grades 1 through 12 or a licensed child care provider.   It is important to note that this does not apply to adult children.

What types of leave may an employee be entitled to?

Under Labor Code section 230.7, employers are required to provide parents of school-aged children with time off to appear at their child’s school for disciplinary purposes.

Under  Labor Code section 230.8 , parents of covered employers may take up to 40 hours per year of job-protected time off to find, enroll, or reenroll their children in school or with a licensed child care provider, or to participate in activities of the school or child care provider. In order to take the protected time off, reasonable notice must be given to the employer before the scheduled absence.

In addition, any time taken for the reasons described above must not exceed eight (8) hours in any calendar month of the year. The code does not define child related school and care activities; however broad enough to suggest field trips, parent- teacher conferences and school assemblies are included.

Parents may also be entitled to 40 hours of job-protected leave for unscheduled absences for “emergency” situations.  Emergency situations are defined as a situation where a child cannot stay in the care of the school or child care provider for the following circumstances:

  • the school or child care provider has unexpectedly requested that the child be picked up,
  • behavioral or discipline problems,
  • unexpected closure or unavailability of the school or child care provider,
  • natural disasters such as fire, earthquake, or flood.

Taking leave for this purpose does not negate the parent’s obligation to inform employers of their unscheduled absence as soon as practicable.

 Can employers require Documentation?

An employer may request the employee provide documentation from the school or child care provider to prove the employee took time off for the reasons described above on a particular date and time.

How does other employment policies apply?

Employees may use any accrued/unused vacation or PTO for scheduled time off related to enrollment or school and child care organized activities. Employers are not required to offer paid time off independently to accommodate absences under section 230.8.