What is Parental Leave and Do I Have to Offer it to My Employees?

This post by Drinkwater Law Offices

Posted in Employees, Human Resources

By Bonnie Drinkwater, Esq. and Tracy McKenzie, Esq.

Mother and Son
Effective August 15, 2009 in the State of Nevada, if you are an employer with fifty (50) or more employees (for each working day in each of twenty (20) or more calendar weeks in the current calendar year), you must comply with the new parental leave for school activities law.

This law requires you to provide an employee who is a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child enrolled in a public or private school four (4) hours of unpaid leave per school year per child to:

  • Attend parent-teacher conferences;
  • Attend school-related activities during regular school hours;
  • Volunteer or otherwise be involved at the school in which the child is enrolled during regular school hours; and
  • Attend school-sponsored events.

You may place the following restrictions on an employee’s use of the parental leave:

  • The leave must be taken in increments of at least one (1) hour;
  • The leave must be taken at a time mutually agreeable to both the employer and the employee;
  • The employer may require the employee to request the leave in writing at least five (5) school days in advance of the leave; and
  • The employer may require an employee to provide documentation indicating that the employee attended or participated in the school-related function for which the leave was granted.

What changes should I make to my employee handbook?

You should prepare and distribute a new (or updated) policy which sets forth who is eligible for the leave, the amount of leave, the activities for which leave will be granted, and the procedure an employee must follow to request the leave.  The policy should also contain a provision indicating that the company will not terminate, demote, suspend or otherwise discriminate against an employee, or threaten to take such action against an employee, who utilizes the leave benefits provided by the new law.

Do I need to do training?

The employer should also train their supervisors and managers regarding the provisions of the new law to avoid discrimination against employees who take parental leave.  There are provisions in the law itself that make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to terminate, demote, suspend, discriminate against, or to otherwise threaten to assert such action against an employee who:  (1) takes the parental leave granted by the statute; (2) attends a conference requested by an administrator of the child’s school; or (3) is notified during work hours by a school employee of an emergency regarding the employee’s child.

What happens if I don’t comply?

The provisions of the new statute provide specific remedies for a violation.  If you terminate, demote, suspend, discriminate against, or threaten to take such action against an employee in violation of the new law, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor.  There is a procedure for an aggrieved employee to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.  You then have an affirmative duty to provide the employee “who is discharged from employment or who is demoted, suspended or otherwise discriminated against with all the forms necessary” to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.  If the Labor Commissioner finds in favor of the employee, the Labor Commissioner may award, in addition to any remedies provided in NRS Chapters 607 and 608, the following:  (1) lost wages and benefits as a result of the violation; (2) an order reinstating the employee to their position without loss of seniority, pay or benefits; and (3) damages in the amount of the lost wages and benefits.

© 2009 Drinkwater Law Offices

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