In an attempt to avoid wildfires caused by winds damaging power equipment, California utilities took the unprecedented step to proactively shut off power to about 800,000 customers across Northern California this week. Such power outages have placed California employers in the challenging situation of determining whether to continue operations.
This means that many schools across the Golden State are also closing their doors. California law actually provides employees the right to take up to 40 hours of unpaid leave per school year
for the purpose of either of the following child-related activities to address a child care provider or school emergency due to one of the following::
- Closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or child care provider, excluding planned holidays.
- A natural disaster, including, but not limited to, fire, earthquake or flood.
- The school or child care provider has requested that the child be picked up or has an attendance policy, excluding planned holidays, that prohibits the child from attending or requires the child to be picked up from the school or child care provider.
- Behavioral or discipline problems.
The law, California Labor Code 230.8, only applies to business locations with 25 or more employees at the same location. Employees wishing to avail themselves of such leave must provide management with as much advance notice as possible. A “parent” is defined as:
- Foster parent
- Person who stands in loco parentis to a child
While the law does not require employers to provide paid time off for this purpose, many employers establish policies requiring employees to use existing vacation time or other accrued paid time off for these purposes.