The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are more than 34 million households with children under the age of 18, and members of your employees may be among them. They may want to attend school plays, sporting events, and teacher conferences, or volunteer at school functions. With employees’ children back in school, be sure you know the correct policy for employees taking time off for them to attend school activities.
Your state law may require you to give unpaid time off. Currently California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia mandate this leave. The number of hours per year varies with location. And there may be exemptions for very small companies. You can view the rules at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Read the law carefully to understand how it impacts your HR policies. For example, you may be permitted to require employees to use up their paid personal leave time before granting unpaid leave for attendance at school activities.
Work-life balance is a key concern for employees today. In a tight job market, you may want to support employees’ desires to attend school functions. Small businesses are in a good position to help employees by adopting a flexible policy for time off. Consider these options:
- Trading days. Spotify allows employees to make a day-off trade.
- Increasing PTO banks. Many companies today allow employees to accrue Paid Time Off (PTO), which can be used for sick days, vacation days, or personal days (e.g., to attend school functions).
- Partial days off. Employees may only need a few hours off to attend school activities. Instead of having them use up a full day, let them enjoy the hours off; they can be made up another time.
Caution: For hourly employees, by law you cannot give comp time (i.e., working overtime and then allowing time off for those extra hours). These employees must be paid for any overtime.
Be sure to work time off for attending school activities into your benefits package. Budget accordingly.