Q. With school starting, can you remind us what our obligations are to grant workers time off to participate in their children’s school-related activities?
A. Under California Labor Code Section 230.8, employees who are parents, guardians or grandparents with custody of children in kindergarten or grades 1-12, or attending a licensed day care facility, 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 that employ 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.
Under the statute, the employee must provide the employer with reasonable notice of a planned absence. The employee must use existing vacation, personal leave or compensatory time off for any school-related absences. Or, an employee may use time off without pay (if the employer allows it). You can ask for proof the time was used for school purposes, which the employee can get from the school or day care facility.
An employee who is fired, demoted, suspended or threatened with a discharge because he or she has taken time off to participate in school activities is entitled to reinstatement, reimbursement for lost wages and, or both. An employer that “willfully” refuses to rehire, promote or otherwise restore an employee or former employee “who has been determined to be eligible for rehiring or promotion by a grievance procedure, arbitration or hearing authorized by law” may be required to pay three times the amount of the employee’s lost wages and work benefits.