Know the Law About the Right To Take Time Off Work for Child Care Emergencies in California

Printable version – Know the Law About the Right To Take Time Off Work for Child Care Emergencies in California

This publication is intended to provide general information. It is made available with the understanding that the Child Care Law Center is not engaged in rendering legal advice. We believe it is current as of June 14 2016 but the law changes often. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney who can specifically advise you.
(1) For what child care-related reasons can I take time off of work?

Parents, guardians, stepparents, foster parents, grandparents with custody of a child, and other caregivers of a child who work for an employer with 25 or more employees have the right to take up to 40 hours off from work each year [i] to:

  • Participate in their child’s child care or school activities.
  • Evaluate child care and schools, and enroll their child.[ii]
  • Attend to their child during a school emergency, which includes when:
    1. the child care or school asks that the child be picked up,
    2. the child has a behavioral or discipline problem,
    3. the child care or school has closed, or the child care provider cannot care for the child without warning,
    4. a natural disaster, including, but not limited to, a fire, earthquake, or flood occurs.[iii]

[i] Cal. Lab. Code § 230.8.
[ii] Employees must give their employer reasonable notice for (1) and (2). Employees may also need to provide documentation of their absence to their employer upon request for (1) and (2). Cal. Lab. Code § 230.8.
[iii] Rights (1) – (3) come from the passage of Senate Bill 579. S.B. 579, 2015 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2015), available at In cases of emergencies, employees should give notice to their employer as soon as possible and are not required to give their employers documentation. Id.
(2) How can I apply sick days to child care-related emergencies?

All employees can earn at least three paid sick days per year. Employees can use their paid sick days:

  • Because he/she was a victim of domestic violence.
  • For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, the employee or the employee’s child, parent, spouse, domestic, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling.[i]

Employees who have more than three sick days per year may use at least half of their extra sick days for the above family members and reasons in (5)[ii]. Employees fired, demoted, or in any other manner discriminated against as a result of exercising his/her right to take time off under (1)-(5), are entitled to legal remedies [iii].

[i] Cal. Lab. Code § 246.5(a)(employee rights (4) – (5)).
[ii] Senate Bill 579, Chapter 802 (Cal. 2015), available at
[iii] Cal. Lab. Code § 230.8.