Q. With the start of the school year, several of our employees have asked to leave work early to attend parent orientation events at their child’s school. Are we obligated to grant employees time off for these events?
A. Section 230.8 of the California Labor Code prohibits employers from discriminating against or discharging an employee for taking leave to participate in school activities as long as the employee gives the employer reasonable notice of the planned absence. The state law allows covered employees to take up to 40 hours of such leave each year, not to exceed eight hours in any calendar month.
Employers with 25 or more employees working at the same location are covered under the statute. These employers must extend this protection to employees who are parents, guardians or grandparents having custody of one or more children in kindergarten or grades one through 12. The protections also apply to the activities of children in licensed day care facilities.
The Labor Code states that employees requesting leave for school activities shall utilize existing vacation, personal leave or compensatory time off for purposes of the planned absence (unless otherwise provided by certain labor agreements). Employees also may take time off without pay for these absences.
In the event that both parents of a child work for the same employer and at the same work site, the entitlement to leave applies to the parent who first gives the employer notice of the need for an absence. The other parent would then be able to request the employer’s approval for taking the same time off that the other parent is taking.