Category: Small Necessities Leave

As your kids get older, they will probably become involved in an increasing number of groups, clubs, and organizations. With a new school year on the horizon, you may be wondering how you can work and make time for your child’s increasingly demanding schedule. Thanks to a California law, you have the right to miss some work if you need to participate in your child’s school activities. Your employer is generally required to respect your choice to spend quality time with your growing child. If your employer retaliates or you experience consequences for your actions, you may have the grounds to file a lawsuit.

Small Necessities Leave Law

There’s a special provision in the California Labor Code that is intended to protect the special relationship between a parent and child. Section 230.8 is known as the Small Necessities Law. It protects a parent’s right to take time away from work to participate in their child’s school-related activities. Under the law, employers are prohibited from “discharging or in any way discriminating” against an eligible employee who exercises that right.

What Actions Are Protected?

Parents can’t just take time off from work for any reason. The Small Necessities Leave Law protects parents who take time off from work to:

  1. Find, enroll, or re-enroll their child in a school or licensed child care facility
  2. Participate in school or childcare activities, or
  3. Address a child care or school emergency.

Parents are permitted to take time to engage in any of these activities for one or more children enrolled in kindergarten or grades 1 through 12.

Does the Law Only Apply to Biological Parents?

No. Anyone who can stand in the parent’s shoes and offer support and guidance to a child can benefit from the Small Necessities Leave Law. This includes:

  • Parent
  • Guardian
  • Step-parent
  • Grandparent, or
  • Foster parent.

Parents Must Give Reasonable Notice

Parent’s also can’t just get up and leave to head to their child’s school out of the blue. State law requires the parent to notify the employer of the intent to miss work ahead of time. It’s a good rule of thumb to provide notice as soon as you learn about an obligation or event.

How Much Time Off Can Parents Take?

The Small Necessities Leave Law limits the amount of time a parent can take off from work to attend school-related activities. Parents are permitted to take:

  • 40 hours a year, but
  • No more than 8 hours in a single month.

You may need to provide your employer with proof of the activity from your child’s school or childcare facility.

What If Both Parents Work for the Same Employer?

Employers don’t have to let both parents leave work to go to a school function or take care of a child’s school needs. Preference will be given to the first parent to provide the employer with notice of the intent to miss work.

Are All Employers Bound By The Small Necessities Leave Law?

No. Employers who only have a handful of workers aren’t required to let employees leave to spend time with their kids. The law applies to employers with 25 or more employees working in a single location.

What Happens If My Employer Violates the Small Necessities Leave Law?

Labor Code Section 280.3(d) provides remedies for parents whose rights under the law are infringed. The consequences for your employer will depend on the employer’s actions.

Reinstatement and Reimbursement: You are entitled to get your job back and receive compensation for lost wages and benefits if you are:

  • Fired or terminated
  • Threatened with discharge
  • Demoted
  • Suspended, or
  • The victim of discrimination.

Civil Damages: You are entitled to civil damages equal to three times the amount of lost wages and benefits if your employer willfully refused to:

  • Rehire
  • Promote, or
  • Restore your position after arbitration or a similar hearing.

The Small Necessities Leave Law was enacted to preserve the special relationship between a parent and child. The state understands the importance of a parent’s presence in a child’s life during their formative years.


Do you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment at work? Do you want to learn about your rights and options? Call our San Jose discrimination lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.