All About Kin Care Leave in California

Kin care leave is time provided to employees to take time off work to care for a family member. This allows employees to use up to half of their sick leave for specific family members as defined by California law.

Family Members

The types of family members covered by the law expanded in 2016, and now includes:

  • a child -- biological child, adopted child, foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for which the employee stand's in loco parentis;
  • a parent -- biological parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian;
  • a spouse;
  • a registered domestic partner;
  • a grandparent;
  • a grandchild; or
  • a sibling.

Notably, kin care leave does not extend to mothers-in-law or fathers-in-law.

Number of Days Off of Work

The number of days an employee make take off of work for kin care leave is calculated as:

  • an amount not less than the sick leave
  • that would be accrued during 6 months
  • of the employee's then current rate of entitlement.

This effectively means that up to half of an employee's yearly allotted sick leave may be used for kin care purposes.

Reasons an Employee Can Take Time Off from Work

A California employee is entitled to take accrued sick time off from work in order to:

  • seek diagnosis, care, or treatment for an existing health condition of an employee's family member,
  • support a family member who was the victim of domestic violence,
  • support a family member who was the victim of sexual assault, or
  • support a family member who was the victim of stalking.

Employee Violations

An employer is not allowed to take an adverse employment action against an employee for proper use of kin care leave. Employers may not:

Employees whose rights are violated may

  • be entitled to reinstatement and back pay, and
  • may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, or
  • may file a civil action for money damages.

Below, our California employment and labor lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about California workplace leave laws for kin care:

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Kin care leave is time provided to employees to take time off work to care for a family member.

1. What is kin care leave?

Kin care leave is time provided to employees to take time off from work to care for a family member. This allows employees to use up to half of their sick leave for specific family members as defined by California law. 1

2. What family members are included under kin care leave?

Family members covered under this California law include:

  • a child, whether a biological child, adopted child, foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for which the employee stand's in loco parentis;
  • a parent, whether a biological parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, stepparent or legal guardian;
  • a spouse;
  • a registered domestic partner;
  • a grandparent;
  • a grandchild; or
  • a sibling.2

Kin care leave does not extend to mothers-in-law or fathers-in-law.

The types of family members were expanded in 2016. If an employer claims that the applicable family member is not applicable though he or she falls under one of the above categories, the employer likely is basing that assertion on an outdated law.

3. How much time can I take off work?

The number of days an employee make take off work for kin care leave is calculated as:

  • an amount not less than the sick leave
  • that would be accrued during 6 months
  • of the employee's then current rate of entitlement. 3

This effectively means that up to half of an employee's yearly allotted sick leave may be used for kin care purposes.

3.1 What if my employer does not offer accrued sick leave?

Under California law, nearly every employee is guaranteed sick leave. This was not true before 2015, where employees without accrued sick leave were out of luck in terms of kin care leave.

Employers are required to:

  • provide a minimum of 1 hour of sick leave
  • for every 30 hours an employee works
  • after the employee has worked 90 days for the employer and
  • at least 30 days in any given year. 4

There are only a few exceptions to this law. If your employer tells you that you are the exception, an experienced employment law attorney will let you know if the employer is telling the truth.

4. For what reasons can I take off work for kin care leave?

A California employee is entitled to take accrued sick time off work in order to:

  • seek diagnosis, care, or treatment for an existing health condition of an employee's family member,
  • support a family member who was the victim of domestic violence,
  • support a family member who was the victim of sexual assault, or
  • support a family member who was the victim of stalking.

Supporting a family member may include, but is not limited to:

  • assisting in medical care or transportation to medical care,
  • seeking court relief,
  • relocating his or her residence, or
  • seeking counseling for abuse.

5. What if my employer violates my rights?

If an employer violates the employee's rights by taking an adverse employment action against him or her, the employee may be entitled to:

  • reinstatement,
  • back pay, or
  • other actual damages or one day's pay (whichever is greater).5

5.1 Can I file a claim with the Labor Commissioner?

An employee whose rights were violated can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, who is expected to enforce the provisions of the California law.

Alternatively, the employee can file a civil lawsuit against the employer to seek money damages and other legal relief. Employees may also be entitled to attorney's fees if successful in the lawsuit.6

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Call us for help...

For questions about kin care leave or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled California employment attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at the Shouse Law Group.

We have local law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. California Labor Code § 233.
  2. California Labor Code § 245.5.
  3. California Labor Code § 233(a).
  4. California Labor Code § 246.
  5. California Labor Code § 233(d).
  6. California Labor Code § 233(e).

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