California Expands “Kin Care” Leave Law

Nearly all California employees are now covered by the state’s mandatory Paid Sick Leave law that went into effect last July. The Paid Sick Leave law (Labor Code §245) requires employers to provide employees up to three days of paid sick leave annually. Paid sick leave can be used for the diagnosis, care, or treatment, or for preventive care, of the employee’s own health condition or the health condition of a “family member.” “Family member” is defined to include the employee’s child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling. It also includes biological, adoptive, or foster children, parents, stepparents, and legal guardians of the employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner.

Before passing the statewide Paid Sick Leave law, California had in place the “Kin Care” law (Labor Code §233). The Kin Care law permits an employee to use up to one-half of his or her accrued paid sick leave time to attend to an illness of the employee’s child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner. This leave applies to biological, adoptive, or foster children, parents, stepparents, and legal guardians of the employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner. Currently, the Kin Care law does not cover grandparents, grandchildren or siblings. Because of this difference in terminology, an employee’s use of sick leave might count against the employee’s Paid Sick Leave entitlement but not against the employee’s Kin Care leave.

To reconcile the differences in the two paid sick leave laws, an amendment to the Kin Care law that uses the Paid Sick Leave law’s definition of covered “family members” was recently signed into law. The amendment also allows an employee to use Kin Care leave for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition or for preventive care. The broader definition of “family member” and additional purposes of Kin Care leave will require employees to take greater care in balancing their own health care needs with the needs of family members. The broader scope of the Kin Care law also gives employers administrative clarity in tracking leave requests, particularly where the employer has a paid sick leave policy more generous than the required minimum. The Kin Care amendment goes into effect January 1, 2016.

6 Comments


  1. Can/should I give my employer a heads up if I know that I will be using kin care in a couple of weeks?

    Reply

    1. Thank you for contacting us. California’s Kin Care law (Lab. Code sec. 233) allows employees to take up to one-half of their accrued sick leave to care for certain family members. Although an employer may not discipline an employee for taking Kin Care leave, notice requirements vary by law and employer policies. For example, if the leave is covered by California’s Paid Sick Leave Law, an employer may require employees to provide reasonable advanced notice of their intention to use sick leave if the use is foreseeable. If the need for sick leave is unforeseeable, an employer may require employees to provide notice of their intention to use sick leave as soon as practicable. (Lab. Code sec. 246(m).) It is always a good bet to provide your employer with advance notice of the need for leave to minimize the disruption of business.

      Best of luck, The Research Team

      Reply

  2. If my employer offered PTO and not Sick Leave would an employee qualify for Kin Care?

    Reply

    1. Unfortunately, we cannot provide advice regarding individual circumstances. Companies often combine sick leave, vacation and other personal time off into a single PTO program. The policy must provide leave meeting the minimum requirements of California’s Paid Sick Leave Law. Leave can be used for either self health care or care of a family member. The Kin Care Law allows employees to use up to one-half of their accrued PTO to care for specified family members.

      Regards, the Research Team

      Reply

  3. Can I use Kin Care for my parent-in law’s?

    Reply

    1. An employee cannot use Kin Care leave (Labor Code sec. 233) to care for a parent-in-law.

      Have a great day.
      The Legal Research Department

      Reply

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