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What’s the law on granting time off for workers who want to attend kids’ school activities?

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in Employee Benefits Program

Q. Several of our employees have requested time off for their children’s end-of-year school events. What is our obligation to grant workers this time off?

A. Under California Labor Code Section 230.8, parents, guardians or grandparents of children in kindergarten through Grade 12 may take off up to 40 hours each year (not to exceed eight hours in any one month) to participate in their children’s school activities.

This law prohibits employers with at least 25 workers at the same location from taking any adverse action against an employee who takes time off to participate in a protected activity. Two years ago, the statute was expanded to include workers with children attending a licensed day care facility.

Under the statute, the employee must provide his or her employer with reasonable notice of a planned absence. Additionally, the employee must use existing vacation, personal leave or compensatory time off for any school-related absences. Alternatively, employees may take time off without pay if the employer offers that option.

Upon the employer’s request, an employee must provide proof of participation from the school.

An employee who has been fired, demoted, suspended or threatened with discharge for taking time off for school activities is entitled to reinstatement, reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits or both.

An employer that “willfully” refuses to rehire, promote or otherwise restore an employee or former employee may be required to pay three times the amount of the employee’s lost wages and work benefits.

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