Literacy Education Leave for California Employees

Literacy education leave is time off work granted to an adult employee who reveals that he or she has a problem with illiteracy. Illiteracy is:

  • the condition of being unable to, or
  • have great difficulty with,
  • reading and writing.

Employee Literacy Education Assistance Act

Time off from work as a result of illiteracy is granted by the Employee Literacy Assistance Act. The employee may take time off to learn to read if the below three conditions apply:

  1. The employee works for a private employer.
  2. The private employer regularly employs 25 or more employees.
  3. The employee is illiterate and discloses that illiteracy to his or her employer.

Employer Expectations

An employer is expected to:

  • make reasonable accommodations,
  • for any employee,
  • who reveals a problem of illiteracy, and
  • requests assistance in enrolling in an adult literacy education program.

Assistance includes, but is not limited to:

  • helping the employee locate literacy education programs,
  • enrolling in literacy education programs, or
  • arranging for a tutor or other provider of literacy education services to visit the employee's place of work.

No Discrimination or Retaliation

An employer is not allowed to:

Below, our California employment and labor lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about California employee leave rights for literacy education:

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Literacy education leave is time off work granted to an adult employee who reveals that he or she has a problem of illiteracy.

1. What is literacy education leave?

Literacy education leave is time off work granted to employees who reveal that they have a problem with illiteracy. Illiteracy is:

  • the condition of being unable to, or
  • have great difficulty with,
  • reading and writing.

2. Who qualifies for this type of time off work?

An employee may qualify for literacy education leave if the following conditions are met:

  • The employee works for a private employer.
  • The employer regularly employs 25 or more employees.
  • The employee is illiterate and discloses that illiteracy to his or her employer. 1

2.1 Who do I reveal my inability to read to?

California law does not specify to whom the employee must reveal his or her illiteracy. Some options may include:

  • the employee's immediate supervisor,
  • the director of human resources,
  • a member of the human resources staff, or
  • another designated individual who handles leave-related issues.

3. What does my employer have to do?

Employers are expected to:

  • provide reasonable accommodations, and
  • assist any employee who has a problem with illiteracy.

An accommodation is "reasonable" if it does not impose an undue burden on the employer. 2

Assistance includes, but is not limited to:

  • helping the employee locate literacy education programs,
  • enrolling in literacy education programs, or
  • arranging for a tutor or other provider of literacy education services to visit the employee's place of work.

4. Am I entitled to pay during literacy education leave?

An employee is not entitled to time off with pay for an employee, even when that leave is guaranteed by law.

Employers may allow an employee to use:

This decision rests with the employer and is not guaranteed.

5. Will my employer keep my illiteracy private?

If an employee reveals his or her illiteracy, the employer is required to:

  • make all reasonable efforts,
  • to safeguard the privacy of the employee,
  • as to the fact that he or she has a problem with illiteracy. 3

6. Can my employer fire me for revealing my illiteracy?

An employer is not allowed to:

  • demote,
  • wrongfully terminate,
  • refuse to rehire,
  • fail to promote,
  • suspend, or
  • in any other way discriminate against the employee for taking leave.

The "exception" to this is if the employee is not able to satisfactorily perform his or her work. 4

7. What if my employer violated my rights?

If an employer illegally acts against an employee because of the use of literacy education leave, the employee may file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Department of Industrial Relations.

The Division will review the employee's claim for illegal actions on the part of the employer. If the employee's rights were violated, he or she may be entitled to:

The employer may also be found guilty of a misdemeanor. 5

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Call us for help...

For questions about literacy education 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.


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