Do I Have to Give My Employee Time Off to Participate in One of Her Child's Camps or Attend a Soccer Game This Summer?

Not under Minnesota state or federal law, no. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be the closest thing to allowing eligible employees time off for such activities, but unless the camp or soccer game could somehow be characterized as a serious medical condition (which would be an improbable outside-the-box argument and interesting medical certification to review) federal law would not be in play.

Minnesota employers should be familiar with the School Conference and Activities Leave law, which grants employees up to 16 hours of unpaid time off work in any 12-month period to attend conferences or school related activities. This law would come close to being applicable and considered if an employee asks for leave to attend any child related function, but for the qualifier that the activity must be "school related." This qualifying phrase effectively limits this law from having application toward the broad range of children activities that employees may want to participate. In other words, camp and soccer practices and games over the summer break, because they are activities not related to school, would not entitle the employee time off.

It probably has not gone unnoticed that we're in the throes of a significant expansion of employee rights regarding health and wellness, as the government tries to do what it can to create conditions for some sort of work-life balance. It is not unforeseeable that someday there could be mandatory time off laws intended to allow employees to soak in the summer activities with their children. As you can see, it would take but a minor change in verbiage in Minnesota to make this a reality. Laws aside, companies certainly have the flexibility to create their own policies around time off for various activities, which could include granting time off to attend camp or soccer games for their children.


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