Balancing Family Care and Your Job

Family CareWorried about your job and balancing family care? Can you be fired for calling in sick at the last minute because your child is ill? Let’s say you were just on your way out the door when your little one experienced a disturbing flu symptom.  You can’t drop your child off at daycare under those circumstances, so you have no choice but to stay home to tend to him or her yourself. Your employer is understandably not thrilled; but can you actually lose your job?

Caring for Sick Family Members

Many Americans have dual roles of both breadwinner and caregiver. Sometimes juggling these responsibilities gets tricky.

  • 69% of caregivers report having to rearrange their work schedules at times;
  • Female caregivers are almost three times more likely than their male counterparts to take less demanding jobs in order to provide care;
  • 34% of caregivers wind up leaving a job due to inflexible work schedules.
SB 579

Under California law, employers who employ at least 25 employees and who provide any sick leave to employees must allow employees to use at least one-half of their time to care for sick family members, including children, parents, spouses and domestic partners, as well as the in-laws of the same. Even grandparents and grandchildren qualify for care under SB 579.  Employees cannot be threatened with demotions, suspensions, or firing based on the use of this leave.

Beyond this protected sick leave, the law may provide limits on an employers’ ability to require doctors’ notes for absences. Such a requirement may appear to be discriminatory or a form of retaliation against employees who use Protected Sick Leave.

Furthermore, the use of Protected Sick Leave should not be counted against employees in performance evaluations or when making determinations as to excessive absenteeism.

Additional Family Care Protections

SB 579 expands protections for employees who wish to take time off for child-related activities for children in grades k-12 or who are being cared for with a licensed care provider. This means employees may take time off of work to find and enroll a child in school or licensed day-care.  Moreover, if a parent is called due to a child’s behavior or discipline issues, time off must be allowed.

Who Qualifies as a Family Care Parent?

Parents are defined as biological parents, legal guardians, foster parents, stepparents, grandparents, and in loco parentis (one who is standing in and acting in the parenting role). [Read more…]

Time Off From Work – New Provisions

Time OffDo you wish to enroll your child in a new school, but time off from your work schedule makes the process too difficult? You are likely unaware of SB579, but it is a legal provision that both you and your employer should become acquainted with.  Labor Code 233, sometimes called the Kin Care law, has been revised to include favorable impacts for employees. Because this law, as most, is open to interpretation, getting experienced legal help for your individual circumstances is always a good idea.

How Does Labor Code 233 Impact Time Off For Child-Related Activities?

This law protects employees in their efforts to participate in school activities for children in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades. In addition, the law provides that parents, grandparents, and other custodial guardians, including step-parents and foster parents, may take time off of work to deal with child care provider emergencies, school emergencies, or to simply enroll a child in school or with a licensed child care provider. In fact, the law entitles you up to 40 hours per year for such activities in the state of California.

Employers may require employees to use their personal leave, comp time, vacation time, or other leave for such activities, but if that is unavailable, the law allows up to eight hours per month of unpaid leave.

What Other Time Off Changes Does Labor Code 233 Invoke?

Changes made to the “Kin Care” law took effect in January of 2016. These changes widen the scope of activities for which individuals may use their accrued sick leave. Employees may now use up to one-half of protected leave under these circumstances:

  • Health reasons related specifically to the employee;
  • Health reasons related to the employee’s family members;
  • Employees who are victims of sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence.

Is a Doctor’s Note Required in Order to Take This Type of Time Off?

Under the new provisions, an employer’s right to seek verification of an illness is limited, as well. The changes in Labor Code section 233 protect employees from disciplinary action when using one-half of their accrued leave. Employers may not request a doctor’s note substantiating the illness until the employee has used one-half of the leave. So for example, if an employer provides 20 sick-leave days per year, a request for a physician’s documentation of illness could not be requested until after the first 10 days of leave has been taken.

Do All Employers Have to Provide This Type of Time Off?

Labor Code Section 233 applies to all employers who employ 25 or more individuals. [Read more…]

San Francisco to Require Fully Paid Parental Leave

Paid Parental LeaveThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a new paid parental leave law that will allow employees to take up to six weeks of fully paid time off from work to be with a new child. The new paid parental leave legislation is the broadest of its kind in the United States.

What the Fully Paid Parental Leave Law Entails

Some of the most important features of the legislation are as follows:

Covered employees will be able to take the six weeks of fully paid leave to spend time with a newborn child, a newly adopted child, or a new foster child.

The law is intended to supplement the benefits that employees receive through California Paid Family Leave. California Paid Family Leave allows covered employees to receive 55% of their pay for as much as six weeks of family leave. The new legislation compensates employees with the remaining 45% of their salaries during that period.

Employees will not be covered unless they began working for their employers at least 180 days before the beginning of their leave periods, and they work at least 8 hours per week within the city of San Francisco, and they are eligible for California Paid Family Leave for the purpose of “bonding with a new child.” (If an employee’s work hours fluctuate from week to week, a determination will be made based on the average number of hours he or she has worked per week throughout the past three months.)

If an employee works for more than one employer, the employer’s share of that employee’s benefits under the new parental leave law will be based on how much of the employee’s salary is paid by each employer. (This means that if a covered employee earns 60% of his or her salary from a particular employer, that employer will be required to pay 60% of the employee’s supplemental benefits.)

If an employee voluntarily quits a position less than 90 days after the end of his or her leave period, the employee must reimburse the employer for the full amount of the benefits that the employee received under the new law. In addition, before receiving these benefits, an employee must sign a form agreeing to pay back the full amount of the benefits if he or she quits within 90 days of the end of the leave period.

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2017 for employers with 50 or more employees. It will go into effect on July 1, 2017 for employers with 35-49 employees, and on January 1, 2018 for employers with 20-34 employees.

Covered employers will be required to post a notice explaining the law’s provisions. The notice must be written in English, Spanish, Chinese, and any other language that is spoken by at least 5% of the employees at the location. [Read more…]


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