California’s School Activities Leave Expands Employee’s Parental Rights


California labor law now encourages parents’ participation in their child’s development. Employers with 25 or more employees working at the same location must allow employees to take time off to participate in their child’s school activities pursuant to California Labor Code § 230.8. The child may be in kindergarten, grades 1 to 12, and licensed child care.

According to a Labor Commissioner Deputy, school activities under this law include graduations, Halloween parades, plays, award ceremonies, and sporting events. Indeed, the original bill’s purpose was “to allow working parents to volunteer time in the classroom, school library or computer lab, attend field trips, or sit on the school site council.”[1]

California Labor Code § 230.8 was a response to the changing structure of the American family. The rise of women in the workforce and dual-working parents led to a drastic decrease of parental participation in children’s school activities.[2]

Yet, studies show that parent involvement is crucial to a child’s academic achievement. Students whose parents are involved in their education earn higher grades and test scores, and have better attitudes and behavior.[3] The law allows employers to address the child care needs of working parents.[4] “The Legislature enacted Labor Code section 230.8 in part because it found ‘[p]arents represent the single more important citizen group in terms of school support’ and ‘[t]he building of a network of parent volunteers to support children in public schools is central to the well-being of the entire community.’”[5]

The law applies to parents, guardians, stepparents, foster parents, grandparents, or any person who stands in loco parentis to a child. Employers cannot discharge or discriminate against any employee for attending school activities of his or her child under California Labor Code § 230.8. Thus, parents or other parental figures can participate in school activities without fear of jeopardizing their jobs.[6] Additionally, the employers benefit as well by helping their employees effectively manage work and family life.[7]

An Employee’s Requisite Steps

An employee must give reasonable notice to his or her employer of the planned absence before taking the time off. Employers may require documentation of the school activity. Further, an employee must use existing vacation, personal leave, or paid time off for his or her planned absence for school activities. Alternatively, an employee may also utilize time off without pay.

If more than one parent of a child is employed by the same employer at the same worksite, the employer may allow time off to one parent only or both at the same time.

Relevant Time Limits

An employee may take off up to 40 hours each year to participate in activities of the school or licensed child care provider. However, time off shall not exceed 8 hours in any month of the year.


About The Author
Erika Sanchez is a 2018 Summer Associate.


[1] CA B. An., A.B. 2590 Assem., 4/06/1994.

[2] CA B. An., A.B. 2590 Assem., 4/20/1994

[3] CA B. An., A.B. 2590 Assem., 4/20/1994.

[4] CA B. An., A.B. 47 Assem., 4/16/1997.

[5] Mercuro v. Superior Court, 96 Cal.App.4th 167, 180 (2002).

[6] CA B. An., A.B. 47 Sen., 4/01/1997.

[7] CA B. An., A.B. 47 Sen., 4/01/1997.