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Kin Care – How an Employee May Use Sick Leave for Family Member Care

1314902_medical_doctor.jpgMany employees and employers are surprised to learn there is a California statute allowing employees to use up to one-half of their annual sick leave for the care of an immediate family member. The statute, Labor Code § 233, is informally referred to as Kin Care because it applies to the care of an employee’s immediate family. Under Labor Code § 233, an employer must allow the employee to use sick leave to attend to his or her child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner. The amount of sick leave that can be used for this purpose is equal to the sick leave the employee earns in the six preceding months.

An employer violates this statute when it denies the employee the right to use his or her leave this way, terminates the employee, or discriminates against an employee that wants to or uses sick leave in this manner. When a violation is proven, the employee is entitled to reinstatement and actual damages, among other remedies.

The California Supreme Court took up the issue of Kin Care in McCarther v. Pacific Telesis Group in 2010. However, the major holding of that case is unlikely to affect most California employers. The employer in that matter had a sick leave policy that allowed for an indefinite number of paid sick days, in contrast to a traditional sick leave policy of a defined number of days per year. Because of that distinction, the employer did not violate the Kin Care provision of Labor Code § 233.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. It should not be acted upon without consulting a licensed California attorney about the facts, particular needs and questions of the person or entity considering these issues. Contact our office for assistance dealing with employee leave-of-absence requests.