It’s no secret that it can be a challenge for employees to balance work and family obligations.  One measure taken by the California legislature to increase work/life balance is the establishment of school activity leave under section 230.8 of the California Labor Code.  Below are answers to employers’ most frequently asked questions regarding this lesser-known type of leave.

Are all employers required to provide employees with school activity leave?

No, only employers that employ 25 or more employees at the same location.

Which employees are entitled to school activity leave?

Any employee who is a parent, guardian, step-parent, foster parent, grandparent, or person who stands in loco parentis to one or more children who are enrolled in: (1) kindergarten through grade 12; or (2) a licensed child care facility.

How much leave are employees entitled to take?

Up to 40 hours per school year, but not more than 8 hours in any calendar month.

What school activities are covered?

Eligible employees may take leave to:

  • Participate in activities of their child’s school or licensed child care facility;
  • Find, enroll, or re-enroll a child in a school or with a licensed child care provider; or
  • Pick up a child due to a child care provider or school emergency.

What constitutes an emergency for purposes of taking this type of leave?

A request from the school or the child care provider that the child be picked up, including due to behavior or discipline problems, unexpected closure, or a natural disaster.

Are employers required to pay employees who take school activity leave?

No, the leave is unpaid unless the employee uses vacation, personal leave, compensatory time off, or other applicable leave.

Does an employee have to provide notice or other documentation?

Yes, employees must provide reasonable advance notice of any planned absence.  Employers may also require employees to provide documentation from the school or licensed child care facility as verification that the employee participated in school or child care facility activities on a specific date or time.

What if both parents work for the agency?

If both parents work for the same employer, only one parent is allowed to take this leave at any given time. The parent who requests the leave first is given priority.  Employers may allow both parents to take leave, but they are not required to do so.

If your agency’s personnel policies do not address school activity leave for employees, back to school season is a perfect time to revisit whether the agency should adopt such a policy.