Small Necessities: Your Duty to Provide Leave to Working Parents

Your employee wants to use two hours of PTO to attend a conference or a school event for a minor child.  You deny the request, reasoning that PTO should be taken in whole day increments for the purpose of vacations, and allowing the employee to take two hours of PTO may disrupt business operations for the day.  Are you complying with the law?

 In nine states and the District of Columbia you may be out of compliance.  These states have what are referred to as “small necessities” leave laws.  Small necessities leave may be used to participate in school activities directly related to the educational advancement of the employee’s children, including parent-teacher conferences, and touring and interviewing potential schools.  Each state varies on how many hours of leave employees are eligible to use for small necessities, and the state of Nevada expressly provides that an employee may not be terminated for using leave to attend a child’s school-related activities.

Employers using a point-based attendance system should be aware of small necessities laws and avoid penalizing employees or assigning points for taking leave that would be covered by a small necessities law. 

Small necessities laws generally provide for unpaid leave, but employees should be allowed to use accrued paid leave, and employers may require an employee to use paid leave when taking small necessities leave.

Parents of children with disabilities may be entitled to additional protection under federal law.  The Department of Labor recently issued guidance stating that time off for parents to attend an IEP meeting at a child’s school was covered under FMLA. 

Contact the experienced attorneys at myHRcounsel to remain compliant with state and federal law regarding leave for working parents.