Did You Know? Minnesota Law Protects Parents Who Take Time Off Work to Attend Their Child’s School Activities

December 16th, 2019

A young man plays the trumpet in a band classroom setting as a girl plays the guitar beside him and another boy holds an instrument in the background. We often write about the more common protections for employees in Minnesota, such as protections against discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation for reporting law violations (i.e. whistle blowers), and protections for employees who take medical leave. But, did you know that Minnesota also provides lesser-known protections to employees? For example, Minnesota law allows employees to take up to 16 hours of time off work to attend their child’s school conferences and activities each year and for each child.

What are the Requirements?

To qualify for this leave, an employee must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months prior to the request for leave
  • The employee must work an average of at least half the full-time equivalent for the employee’s job classification (for example, if the full-time equivalent for a job is 40 hours per week, the employee must work an average of at least 20 hours per week).
  • The request for leave must pertain to a child under the age of 18, or a child under the age of 20 attending secondary school.
  • Employees must provide reasonable advance notice before the leave and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave when it will not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.
  • The school-related activity cannot be scheduled during non-work hours (in other words, an employee cannot request time off for an activity that could reasonably be scheduled for a time when the employee is not scheduled to work).

Is My Employer Required to Pay Me for This Time Off?

No. Leave for school-related activities will likely be unpaid, unless the employee substitutes the time off for already-accrued paid time off (such as PTO or vacation). Still, parents may wish to take advantage of this legally-protected leave to chaperone a field trip or attend a child’s conference or band concert instead of using up valuable PTO or vacation time.

Can My Employer Terminate Me for Taking This Time Off?

No. The law prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for appropriately taking leave to attend their child’s school-related activities, and an employee may be able to recover damages such as lost wages and other monetary relief.

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