As the new school year is now well underway, employees may be requesting time off with greater frequency to attend activities related to their children. These requests may involve school conferences with teachers or advisors, school-related sporting events, or school concerts or play performances. Employees with children receiving child care services or attending a prekindergarten regular or special education program may also seek time off from work to attend a conference or activities, or to observe and monitor the services or program.

As an important reminder, eligible Minnesota employees are entitled to up to 16 hours of school-related activities leave during any 12-month period to attend such conferences or events which cannot be scheduled during non-work hours. Minn. Stat. § 181.9412. To receive this unpaid leave the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the leave request. The employee should provide reasonable notice of the leave request and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.

It is important to note that these activities must be school related. The Minnesota law does not apply, for example, to community or private programs such as youth hockey, gymnastics, or private music lessons or performances.

Takeaway: Employers should make sure to grant eligible employees the unpaid leave to which they are entitled to attend school-related activities.