Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & HR Policies /

Ready or not it’s time to go back to school!

You’ve piled your cart full of unnecessary school supplies (do you really need the 100-pack of crayons?), filled your child’s closet with appropriate clothing (would those skirts pass the ruler test?), and synchronized your carpool schedules (are you in charge of Wednesdays or Thursdays?).

This time of year may seem a little hectic, but it also means you get back into a routine. Around our office, we all look forward to the school day routine. But we also realize that we have to be prepared for the unexpected. There could be a field trip or a sick day or an assembly that throws your whole perfectly planned schedule off course.

At Integrity HR, we think this time of year is the perfect time for employers to review their attendance policies and practices regarding employee’s leave for their child’s school-related activities.

Working parents often struggle with balancing work requirements with attendance at school functions such as parent-teacher conferences, class parties, meetings, volunteer activities, and assemblies.

Although no federal law specifically requires employers to allow leave for a child’s school activities, we believe employers should take proactive steps to outline their attendance policy now that school is back in session.  Some states have laws depending on the size of the company that require employers to allow parents and guardians up to 40 hours off work per calendar to attend school activities. Make sure to check if your state has such a law. Kentucky and Indiana do not have this law which means it is up the employers to decide what the company policy will be.

Follow our steps to make sure your attendance policy is in order:

Step One: Decide How Family Friendly You Want The Company To Be

Employers can choose just how family friendly they want their company to be. Usually this choice is based on the company culture. If the job requires the employees to be on site and perform a job that no one else can do, then the employer’s policy will need to outline a stricter policy that may not include time off for family events. If a job has more flexible hours or duties that can be performed at home, then the policy will need to outline those provisions.

Step Two: Decide The Procedure to Allow Time Off

If your company decides it will allow time off for family events, the employer must decide what the procedure will be. Most of the states that do have this family leave law do not require the employer pay the employee for time taken off. Also, under the state laws, employees must provide a certain amount of notice prior to taking leave. Whether your state has the family leave law or not, your policy must be outlined in your Employee Handbook. Your attendance policy should address partials days off along with full days off.  The Employee Handbook should also include a form employees can fill out to request time off for a child’s school-related activities.

Step Three: Communicate Your Company’s Policy To Employees

To make sure the employer and all employers are on the same page, now would be a good time to send out a friendly reminder of your office attendence policy. If your employee handbook outlines that paid time off can be used at the employee’s discretion, explain that it can be used for school functions if the proper procedure is followed. Since school calendars are set up months in advance, encourage employees to check out the schedules so they can discuss their plan with their supervisor to minimize a disruption to the workforce later in the year.

Step Four: Make Sure The Company Policy Is Implemented Correctly

Policies should be applied to all employees without regard to gender. Policies should also be applied fair and consistently to all employees. For example, a supervisor should not deny an employee’s request to attend a parent-teacher conference because the employee failed to provide the request notice and then the next day allow another employee  to attend a last-minute baseball game in the middle of the afternoon. As long as your policies are fair, consistent, and applied to all employees regardless of gender, employers should be able to avoid lawsuits.

Now that you’ve figured out your attendance policy for your employees with families, what about your single employees? The last thing you want to do is make your single employees feel left out. Check back soon for our next blog on how to foster a singles-friendly environment.

If your company needs help creating or updating your Employee Handbook do not hesitate to contact us. Our HR Professionals are experts at creating policies tailored to your company’s needs. Call us today!

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.