One of the more unique employment rights required by law is the ability of parents to take time off from work to participate in their children’s school activities. Nationally, only nine states require private employers to grant school leave. California happens to be one of those states.
California Labor Code Section 230.8 prohibits an employer from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee for taking school leave. The law applies to parents of children in day care as well as those in kindergarten through 12th grade. The amount of leave is limited to 40 hours per year, with no more than eight hours to be taken in any calendar month.
The law does not create a category of leave that must be afforded by an employer above and beyond that which is already permitted for employees. Rather, it specifies that employees shall use vacation, personal or compensatory leave that may already be provided by the employer. In the even no such is afforded or has already been exhausted, an employee may take leave without pay, but only if made available by the employer. In union shops, a collective bargaining agreement agreed to on or after January 1, 1995 cannot diminish the entitlement provided by this law.
Employees are required to provide reasonable notice to the employer of the intent to take school leave. If both parents work for the same employer, the employee who first submitted notice is entitled to the leave. The second parent may also take leave for the activity if approved by the employer. Employers, at their discretion, may require documentation from the school or day care facility verifying the parent participated in an event on the date in question. The employer may not, however, prescribe the form of the documentation or otherwise request information beyond that required by the law.
If an employee is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any way discriminated against for taking school leave, she is entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits. If an employer refuses to reinstate, promote, or otherwise restore an employee to her status when ordered by a grievance procedure, arbitration or legally authorized hearing it is subject to a civil penalty. The penalty is three times the amount of the employee’s lost wages and work benefits. Contact us today to speak with a professional wage and hour attorney in Chico.
Sacramento, CA 95821