Question:

I have three school age children. Now that they are back in school, I want to take time off occasionally to attend their school functions, or to meet with their teachers or principals. Do I have any right to take time off for school visits?

Answer:

Two types of leave may apply to your situation. First, Labor Code section 230.7 permits an employee to take school discipline leave. This leave applies to all employers. The law allows an employee who is a parent or guardian of a child who is suspended from school to take time off to attend a parent-teacher conference or meeting with school administrators. To be eligible for school discipline leave, the employee must have received a written notice from the principal of the school requesting his or her attendance at a conference to discuss the child’s suspension from school. School-discipline leave is not available to employees who voluntarily consult with school administrators regarding a child’s performance in school.

An employer may not discharge, threaten to discharge, or discriminate against an employee for taking school discipline leave. The employee may be asked to provide reasonable advance notice of the need for leave. Also, t he employer may require the employee to provide a copy of the notice received from the school, prior to granting school-discipline leave, and may require documentation from the school as proof that the visit took place. The employer may also ask the employee or the principal to briefly reschedule the conference if the employee’s attendance at work is essential at the time originally scheduled. There is no limit to how frequently employees may take school-discipline leave. School discipline leave is unpaid leave, although the employer may allow the employee to use accrued vacation.

The other type of leave that may apply is school visit leave, found in Labor Code §230.8. This leave applies to employers who employ twenty-five or more employees in the same location. It permits a n employee who is a parent or guardian of a child in kindergarten through twelfth grade, (or a grandparent who has custody of a grandchild), or whose child or grandchild is attending a licensed day care facility, to take up to forty (40) hours leave each calendar year, not exceeding eight (8) hours in any calendar month, to participate in activities of the school or licensed day care facility. The employee may use school visit leave for any type of school or licensed day care facility function.

The employer may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee who takes school visit leave. The employee must provide reasonable notice to the employer of the planned absence before taking the time off. If both parents work for the same employer, the first parent to request time off is entitled to the leave although the employer may approve simultaneous time off for the other parent in the employer’s discretion.

If the employer requests, the employee must provide documentation from the school as proof that he or she visited the school on a specific day at a particular time. Normally, employees must first use vacation pay hours during school visit leave. If an employee does not have vacation pay hours available, the employee may take unpaid leave.

Depending on how many employees there are at your work site, you may be eligible to take time off for school or daycare visits, or to attend school suspension conferences, or both.
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