How to Analyze Time Off Options for Employee at Small Company

We are a small company of 29 employees. Do we have to provide time off work for an employee to care for her daughter?

The New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) is the California law that went into effect on January 1 of this year and it requires a company of 20 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off within one year of a child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. This leave is for baby bonding only.

Parental Leave Criteria

Even though the employee has not asked for parental leave, it is important for you to consider that she may be eligible for that time if her daughter is less than 1 year old and the employee has worked for you for one year and 1,250 hours during the prior 12 months, but only for purposes of baby bonding.

However, if the employee has any available paid sick leave or paid time off, the employee may choose to use such time to care for her ill daughter, regardless of the daughter’s age.

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)—for employers with 50 or more workers—both contain provisions that require a leave to care for a parent, child, spouse, or domestic partner. However, the new parental leave applicable to smaller employers did not adopt those provisions.

Look at Past Practice

Absent a mandated leave, California law requires that you provide available paid sick leave. Beyond that, you should look to see what you have done in the past for unpaid time off work either by company policy or past practice, meaning what you have done for other employees in similar situations.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at

Staff Contact: Sunny Lee