Kin care laws allow employees to take paid time off in order to care for sick family members. This article details everything you need to know about kin care laws in California, including who is eligible, the amount of time permitted, and steps to take in the event of employer retaliation or denial.
What is Kin Care?
In California, kin care is the amount of time an employee can take off in order to provide care to one of their sick family members. Illnesses can range from minor ailments like the flu to more serious ones, such as cancer. The family members that qualify for kin care leave are spouses, children (of any age), parents, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren.
Who is Eligible for Kin Care Leave?
Employees that are eligible for kin care leave are those who accrue sick leaves. In order to have kin care laws cover an absence, employees must have sick leaves available. If an employee has used all of their sick leaves, kin care laws will not cover their absence. For employees with existing sick leaves, kin care leave is an inalienable right.
How Many Hours of Kin Care Leave are Permitted?
An employee cannot use more than half of their sick leave absences if they want an absence to be covered by kin care laws.
Whether an employee is full time or part time affects the number of sick leaves they can use in order to have kin care laws cover an absence. Full time employees receive 8 hours per week and 96 hours per year of sick leave, meaning that they cannot use more than 48 hours of sick leave per year if they want to take a kin care absence.
What if a Family Member is Seriously Ill?
In the event that an employee must care for a seriously ill family member, both kin care and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) can cover their sick leave absence. FMLA allows an eligible employee to take unpaid time off of work while protecting their position at their place of employment. This unpaid time off can last up to 12 weeks. Under current laws, employers are required to provide sick leave if an employee has worked at least 90 days with that employer. They must provide at least one hour of sick leave, and at least 30 sick leaves for each year an employee works.
Are There Repercussions for Using Kin Care Leave?
If an eligible employee chooses to use kin care leave, an employer may not retaliate against them. This means that an employer cannot fire, demote, discriminate against, fail to promote, or fail to rehire an eligible employee who has used kin care absences.
What if Employee Rights are Violated?
An employee whose rights were violated can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner. After filing the complaint, the employee will receive notice from the Board in two to four months.
Another action an employee can take is to file a civil action lawsuit and receive compensatory damages. If an employee believes that their rights under kin care laws were violated, they can receive back pay and reinstatement from their employer. Back pay refers to financial compensation for payment wrongfully lost. Reinstatement is defined as providing a person with a position that they formerly had.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I receive additional sick leave in addition to kin care leave?
A: If an individual uses kin care leave, they cannot receive additional time for a sick leave.
Q: Am I still eligible for kin care leave even though I am not eligible for sick leave?
A: Unfortunately no, you must receive sick leave benefits in order to be eligible for kin care leave. Consider reaching out to your supervisor in order to understand what other options are available for your circumstances.
Q: As a part-time employee, do I receive sick leave benefits?
A: Under the Fair Wages and Health Families Act, part-time employees can receive sick leave benefits. However, you will receive fewer sick leave benefits compared to full-time employees.
Q: Should I keep track of my absences?
A: Yes, we strongly recommend that you keep track of the number of absences you use under kin care. You will most likely have to share this record with your supervisor.
On your record, you should include which family member you were taking care of, as well as the reason for the absence (i.e. a family member’s illness). However, you do not have to disclose the specific medical condition your family member is suffering from.
Q: Does kin care leave require documentation?
Kin care leave does not require a doctor’s note. Additionally, employers do not need a leave of absence document if an employee is not absent for over three consecutive days. If an employee is absent for more than three consecutive days, an employer may request a leave of absence document from the employee.
Q: Can an employer deny kin care leave?
A: Under kin care laws, employers cannot prevent an eligible employee from using their accrued sick leaves for kin care purposes.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been denied kin care leave, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.