August 21, 2009
As Colorado’s new Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act takes effect the first week of August 2009, employers should familiarize themselves with the Act’s application and requirements before the start of the 2009 – 2010 academic year. The legislature in the 2009 session passed the Act in recognition of the important role that parents and guardians play in the success of their children’s education, and to allow parents or guardians to attend children’s academic activities without fear of jeopardizing their employment.
The Act requires both public and private employers with at least fifty employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks to grant unpaid leave to eligible employees to attend certain academic activities for their children. Eligible employees are those working in non-executive or non-supervisory capacities who are parents or legal guardians of a child in any grade from kindergarten through 12th grade. These employees are allowed to take time off only for a defined list of academic activities, such as parent-teacher conferences and meetings related to special education services, dropout prevention, attendance/truancy, and disciplinary issues.
The leave allowed by the Act is limited to 18 hours in any academic year, and an employee may not take more than six hours in any one-month period. The Act requires employees to make reasonable attempts to schedule any academic activities outside of regular work hours, and schools are to make reasonable efforts to accommodate working parents. Employers can require employees to give at least one-week advance notice of the leave and can require employees to provide written verification of the academic activity from the school or school district. Also, employers can limit the ability of employees to take the parental leave in emergencies or if their absence would halt production or service.
Because employers’ other leave policies for employees, such as sick leave, vacation or personal time, can satisfy the Act’s leave requirement subject to certain conditions, whether the Act will have a practical impact on an employer depends on the content of an employer’s existing leave policies. For employers that have other leave available to their employees, employers or employees may elect to substitute accrued paid vacation leave, sick leave, or personal leave for the unpaid parental leave required by the Act.
Our Employment Practice Group can review your existing leave policies to determine whether they provide sufficient leave to comply with the requirements of the Act or whether you will need to allow employees additional leave.
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