HR Tip of the Week

School Activities Leave: Are You Required to Provide It?

school-activities-leave

With the school year starting, employees may ask for time off so they can attend their child's school play, parent-teacher conference, or other school-related activities. While no federal law requires employers to provide time off for these reasons, currently, eight states and the District of Columbia do. Here is a brief summary of these laws:

California  |  District of Columbia  |  Illinois  |  Massachusetts  |  Minnesota  |  Nevada  |  North Carolina  |  Rhode Island  |  Vermont  |  Other States

California:

  • Covered employers: Employers with 25 or more employees at the same location must provide leave for employees to attend school activities. In addition, all employers must grant unpaid time off for employees to attend disciplinary meetings at their child's school or child care facility.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to 40 hours per calendar year to visit a child's school or licensed child care provider to:
    • Find, enroll, or re-enroll a child (not to exceed eight hours in any given month);
    • Participate in their child's activities (not to exceed eight hours in any given month);
    • Address an emergency.

    There is no limit on the amount of time an employee can take for a conference to discuss their child's suspension.

  • Rules: Employees must generally use accrued vacation or personal leave during the absence and provide reasonable advance notice. Employers may require documentation.

District of Columbia:

  • Covered employers: All D.C. employers.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to 24 hours of leave during a 12-month period to attend or participate in a school-related event for a child, including performances, meetings with a teacher or counselor, or similar activities.
  • Pay: Leave is unpaid, unless the employee elects to use accrued vacation or other paid time off.
  • Rules: Employees must provide at least 10 days' advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable.

Illinois:

  • Covered employers: Employers with 50 or more employees.
  • Employee eligibility: The employee must have worked for the company for at least six consecutive months.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to eight hours per school year (not to exceed four hours in any given day) to attend school conferences or classroom activities if the conference or classroom activities cannot be scheduled during non-work hours.
  • Pay: The employee must use accrued vacation or other paid time off, if available. Otherwise, the leave is unpaid. Employers must generally make a good-faith effort to allow employees to make up time missed during the same workweek.
  • Rules: Generally, employees must provide at least seven days' written notice of the need for leave.

Massachusetts:

  • Covered employers: All Massachusetts employers.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to 24 hours of leave during a 12-month period to participate in a child's school activities. Under the same law, employers must also provide time off for a child's doctor or dentist appointment, or an elder relative's doctor, dentist, or other appointment related to their care.
  • Rules: An employee may elect, or the employer may require, the employee to use paid vacation, personal leave, medical or sick leave during the absence. If the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide seven days' notice. Employers may require documentation.

Minnesota:

  • Covered employers: All Minnesota employers.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to 16 hours during any 12 month period to attend school conferences or school activities or to observe or monitor pre-kindergarten or special education programs.
  • Employee eligibility: The employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months immediately preceding the request.
  • Rules: An employee may use accrued vacation or other paid time off for the absence.

Nevada:

  • Covered employers: Employers with 50 or more employees. However, all employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against individuals who appear at a conference requested by a school administrator or who are notified during work of an emergency regarding their child.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to four hours per school year per child at a public school to:
    • Attend school-related activities and parent-teacher conferences;
    • Volunteer or otherwise be involved at the school during regular school hours; and
    • Attend school-sponsored events.
  • Pay: Leave is unpaid.
  • Rules: The employer may require the employee to provide up to five days' written notice and the leave must be at a time mutually agreed upon by the employer and the employee. Employers may also require documentation.

North Carolina:

  • Covered employers: All North Carolina employers.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to four hours of unpaid leave per year for school activities.
  • Rules: The leave must be at a time mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee. Additionally, the employer may require at least 48 hours' written notice, along with verification from the school.

Rhode Island:

  • Covered employers: Employers with 50 or more employees.
  • Employee eligibility: Employees must work an average of 30 or more hours per week and be employed by the employer for 12 consecutive months.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to ten hours of leave during any 12 month period to attend school conferences and activities.
  • Pay: Leave is unpaid; however, an employee may substitute accrued vacation or other paid time off.
  • Rules: The employee must provide 24 hours' advance notice and make a reasonable effort to schedule leave so it does not unduly disrupt the employer's operations.

Vermont:

  • Covered employers: Employers with 15 or more employees working an average of 30 or more hours per week.
  • Employee eligibility: Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least one year, averaging at least 30 hours per week.
  • Leave entitlement: Up to four hours in any 30-day period (not to exceed 24 hours in 12 months) for employees to attend school activities and attend to certain other family matters, such as accompanying family members to medical, dental, and other appointments related to their care and well-being.
  • Pay: Leave is unpaid; however an employee may elect to use accrued vacation or other paid time off.
  • Rules: The employee must provide at least seven days' notice, except in the case of an emergency, and the employee must make a reasonable attempt to schedule appointments outside of regular work hours.

Other States:

Louisiana, Oregon, and Tennessee encourage, but do not require employers to provide school activities leave. For instance, Louisiana's law states that employers may offer employees up to 16 hours of leave for school-related purposes. Note that Louisiana has specific requirements related to substitution of paid leave for those that offer school-activities leave voluntarily.

Conclusion:

If you have employees in one of the above states, review your state law in full to determine whether the provisions apply to your employees and to confirm that your policies comply. In states without these requirements, employers may want to consider providing such leave voluntarily in order to help employees balance their work and personal responsibilities.

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