School is back in session and employees may soon be asking for time off to attend school related activities involving their children and grandchildren. Employees in California who work at a worksite with 25 or more employees are eligible to take off up to 40 hours a year for child-related activities, including to be the classroom parent of the day, to chaperone a field trip, or to find a new school or day care center.

But employers aren’t left without any control. Employers can limit the amount of time an employee takes for these purposes to no more than 8 hours a month. Employers can also require that employees give reasonable advance note and use any existing vacation or paid time off hours before taking any of this time as unpaid leave. Employers can also require documentation from the school or licensed child care provider as proof of the employee’s activities.

The monthly limit on leave does not apply when time off is needed to attend to a child care provider or school emergency. Such an emergency occurs when an employee’s child cannot remain in a school or with a child care provider because of: (1) behavioral or discipline problems; (2) the closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or provider, excluding planned holidays; (3) a request that the child be picked up by the school or child care provider or because of a policy of the school or child care provider that prohibits the child’s attendance; or (4) a natural disaster.

Finally, all employees who are parents or guardians of children who have been suspended from school can take time off to attend meetings requested by the school. Time off for this purpose applies regardless of the size of the employee’s worksite.