It is back to school time for school children, which means that parents are more likely to request time off to attend to child care or other school activities. And in California—parents have leave entitlements which employers should be mindful of.

California Labor Code section 230.8 provides such time off for certain employees to participate in these activities. Employers who employ 25 or more individuals in one location are required to provide this leave to their employees.

Under the California Labor Code, a “parent” can be a parent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, grandparent or person who stands in loco parentis to the child. Parents are entitled to job-protected leave for up to 40 hours each year for the following reasons:

  • To find, enroll, or re-enroll their child in a school or with a licensed child care provider, or participate in activities of the school or licensed child care provider of their child.
  • To address a child care provider or school emergency.

Enrollment and Activities

For absences due to enrollment, reenrollment and activities of a school or licensed child care provider, a parent must provide reasonable notice to their employer. Employers are permitted to limit the time an employee can take for enrollment, reenrollment, and activities to eight (8) hours in any calendar month.

Child Care or School Emergencies

A child care provider or school emergency means that a child is unable to remain in school or with their child care provider because:

  • The school or child care provider 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;
  • Behavior or discipline problems;
  • Closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or child care provider, excluding planned holidays; or
  • A natural disaster.

Employees must still provide notice to their employers if their absence is due to a child care or school emergency, as soon as possible.

Documentation and Time Off for a School Related Absence

Employers may request that an employee provide documentation from the child’s school or child care provider to show the date and time that the employee was engaged in qualified school or child care activities. Written verification provided by the school or child care provider will be deemed sufficient under the Labor Code.

There is no requirement to provide specific paid time off for leave of this type. However, if absent for school activities related leave, employees shall use vacation or paid time off provided by their employer, if applicable.

Finally, if a child is suspended, a parent must be permitted to take leave to appear at their child’s school upon request from a teacher. All employers, regardless of size, must provide school appearance leave to their employees.