School or Child Care Activities Leave Handbook Statement: California

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include This Statement

California employers with 25 or more employees working at the same location should include this statement in their handbook setting forth employees' right to take time off to participate in school or child care activities with their child, legal ward or custodial grandchild.

Customizable Handbook Statement

School or Child Care Activities Leave

An employee who is a parent to one or more children who are of the age to attend a licensed child care provider, kindergarten or grades one to 12 may take up to 40 hours of leave per school year to participate in any of the following:

  • Finding, enrolling or reenrolling the child in a school or with a licensed child care provider;
  • Participating in school or childcare-related activities; or
  • Addressing a child care provider or school emergency.

"Parent" includes parent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, grandparent and persons who stand in the place of a parent (in loco parentis) to a child.

Time off for reasons other than a child care provider or school emergency is limited to eight hours per calendar month. Child care provider or school emergencies occur when the child cannot remain in school or with a child care provider due to one of the following:

  • The school or child care provider has requested that the child be picked up or has an attendance policy (excluding planned holidays) that prohibits the child from attending or requires that the child be picked up from school or child care;
  • Behavioral or discipline problems;
  • Closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or child care provider (excluding planned holidays); and
  • A natural disaster (e.g., fire, earthquake or flood).

Employees wishing to take time off for a planned absence (e.g., to participate in scheduled school or child care provider activities or enroll a child in school or with a child care provider), must provide reasonable advance notice to their supervisor [or insert name of appropriate company representative or department]. Employees needing time off to address a child care provider or school emergency must provide notice to their supervisor [or insert name of appropriate company representative or department] as soon as practicable.

The Company may require employees to provide documentation from the school or child care provider verifying that the employee participated in the school or childcare activity, including the date and time of the activity.

If both parents of a child work for [Company Name], only one parent - the first to provide notice - may take the time off, unless [Company Name] approves both parents taking time off simultaneously.

Employees must substitute any existing vacation time or other accrued paid time off (PTO) for any part of this leave. Employees who do not have vacation time or PTO available will be allowed time off without pay.

Guidance for Employers

  • California employers that employ 25 or more employees at the same location are required to provide parents with time off for school or child care activities.
  • A "parent" is defined to include a guardian, stepparent, foster parent or grandparent of, or a person who stands in the place of a parent to a child.
  • The child must be attending kindergarten, grades one through 12 or a licensed child care provider.
  • Eligible employees can take time off for the following:
    • Finding, enrolling or reenrolling the child in a school or with a licensed child care provider;
    • Participating in school or childcare-related activities; or
    • Addressing a child care provider or school emergency.
  • Child care provider or school emergencies occur when the child cannot remain in school or with a child care provider due to one of the following:
    • The school or child care provider has requested that the child be picked up or has an attendance policy (excluding planned holidays) that prohibits the child from attending or requires that the child be picked up from school or child care;
    • Behavioral or discipline problems;
    • Closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or child care provider (excluding planned holidays); and
    • A natural disaster (e.g., fire, earthquake or flood).
  • Time off is limited to 40 hours for each school year. Leave to find, enroll, or reenroll a child in a school or with a licensed child care provider, or to participate in school activities, is limited to eight hours in any calendar month of the year.
  • The employee must provide reasonable notice of the need for time off. In the event of a child care provider or school emergency, the employee must provide notice to their supervisor as soon as practicable.
  • The law requires employees to use their accrued paid time off benefits, such as vacation time, during this period of time off. Employers can choose not to require this.
  • If both parents work for the employer, only the first parent to provide notice may take time off for these reasons. However, the employer may agree to grant time off to both parents.
  • If an employer requests documentation of the employee's absence, the employer must accept written verification that the school deems appropriate and reasonable.
  • Employers may not discriminate against an employee for taking time off to appear at the school.
  • Train supervisors on how to administer the policy fairly and consistently for all employees and how to otherwise identify and respond to requests for leave.