As anyone who has a child knows, the school year brings a whole new host of obligations and responsibilities for parents. There are conferences to attend, sporting events to see, and kids to nurse back to health when sick. For those parents holding full time jobs, the plethora of activities can be overwhelming.  allow

Luckily for parents in California, Labor Code section 230.8 provides such time off for “parent” employees to participate in these activities. In fact, employers who employ 25 or more individuals in one location are required to provide a certain amount of leave to their employees for school or child care related reasons. Additionally, under California Labor Code section 230.7, if a child is suspended, all California employers are required to provide leave to parents to appear at their child’s school upon the request of a teacher. 

Under the California Labor Code, a “parent” is defined as a biological parent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, grandparent or any person who stands in loco parentisto for the child. This section does not apply to adult children. Parents are entitled to job-protected leave for up to forty hours each year to find, enroll, or re-enroll their child in a school or with a licensed child care provider, participate in activities of the school or licensed child care provider of their child, and to address a child care provider or school emergency.

Child care or school related emergencies are defined as situations in which the child is unable to remain at the school or with their care provider due to behavioral problems, unexpected school or care provider closings or unavailability, natural disasters, or if the facility has requested the child be picked up, or has an attendance policy that prohibits the child from attending or requires the child to be picked up. For these types of situations, parent employees are to give notice to their employer as soon as possible

For enrollment related absences and activities of a school or licensed child care provider, parent employees must provide reasonable notice to their employer, and employers are able to limit the hours an employee can take off for the aforementioned activities to eight hours per month. Further, employers are allowed to require written verification from their employees that the leave was actually taken for a school or child care reason. Under the Labor Code, a note from the child care provider or the school will be sufficient. 

Though the Labor Code requires employers to allow parents to take leave for school and child care emergencies, there is no requirement that it be a separate, specific type of leave. Rather, employee parents must use accrued vacation or already allocated time off for these purposes, if applicable. Parent employees may also utilize unpaid time off if their employer allows it.

In some situations, it is possible that both of a child’s parents work for the same employer and may want to take leave to attend the same school related event. If that arises, Labor Code section 230.8 only applies to the parents who give notice first, and the employer is not required to accommodate both parents. 

If an employer retaliates against a parent employee in a material way that affects the terms and conditions of their employment (i.e. termination, suspension, demotion, etc.), that parent employee is entitled to both reinstatement and lost wages and work benefits. What’s more, if the employer willfully refuses to restore such an employee, the employer will be liable for civil penalty in an amount equal to three times the amount of the parent employee’s lost wages and work benefits.

With the school year in full swing, parents may take heart that the California Labor Code will allow them to support their child’s activities, to an extent, without faring a loss of employment.