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…]


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