New Bill Would Give Parents Time Off To Attend School Events

To stay competitive in today's business environment, more businesses are focusing on work-life balances to attract (and retain) good employees. With a growing number of work tasks being performed remotely or through the Internet, employers are becoming more flexible about the actual time spent in the office. This allows working parents have more time to attend their children's school activities.

The evolution of the workplace is the impetus behind a new law that would allow parents to take time away from work. The Family Education Leave Act would allow employees in Michigan to take unpaid leave to attend their children's activities without fear of reprisal. Parents and legal guardians would be able to take up to 10 hours of leave (for each child) during an academic year to attend academic activities. The law would also prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who choose to use such leave.

The bill's sponsor, state senator Bert Johnson (D-Detroit), explained to MLive.com that a parent's involvement in their children's academic activities is a key factor in their success. However, many parents cannot take time off to attend parent-teacher conferences or other academic activities. Thus, his bill presents a common-sense approach to resolving this issue.

A number of states allow parents to take time from work. Illinois allows parents and legal guardians to take eight hours of leave per year. Employees in Louisiana can take 16 hours to attend academic events. California allows parents to take up to 40 hours of leave per school year.

The bill is likely to be assigned to the Senate's Education Committee or the Labor Committee so that notice provisions and potential penalties for violations may be discussed. After all, legislators want to maintain a balance between a parent's need to participate in their child's education, and an employer's need to have employees honor an established schedule.

It is anticipated that the bill will receive bipartisan support.