No employer may discharge or discriminate against an employee who takes time off to perform emergency duty. Plus, employers with 50 or more employees must allow volunteer firefighters up to 14 days off per year to engage in fire or law enforcement training.
There is no legal requirement that makes you pay non-exempt employees for their time off. In addition, you may require those employees to use their vacation or PTO available to them (or the employee may volunteer to use it).
And our course, you must pay exempt employees for any day in which they perform any work for you, even if they take part of the day off for their volunteer duties.
Below is the pertinent California Labor Code explaining Volunteer Civil Service Personnel Leave:
230.3. (a) No employer shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for taking time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, a reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel.
(b) Any employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because the employee has taken time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, a reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer. Any employer who willfully refuses to rehire, promote, or otherwise restore an employee or former employee who has been determined to be eligible for rehiring or promotion by a grievance procedure, arbitration, or hearing authorized by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(c) Subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section shall not apply to any public safety agency or provider of emergency medical services when, as determined by the employer, the employee’s absence would hinder the availability of public safety or emergency medical
(d) (1) For purposes of this section, “volunteer firefighter” shall have the same meaning as the term “volunteer” in subdivision (m) of Section 50952 of the Government Code.
(2) For purposes of this section, “emergency rescue personnel” means any person who is an officer, employee, or member of a fire department or fire protection or firefighting agency of the federal government, the State of California, a city, county, city and county,
district, or other public or municipal corporation or political subdivision of this state, or of a sheriff’s department, police department, or a private fire department, whether that person is a volunteer or partly paid or fully paid, while he or she is actually engaged in providing emergency services as defined by subdivision (e) of Section 1799.107 of the Health and Safety Code.
230.4. (a) An employee who is a volunteer firefighter, and works for an employer employing 50 or more employees, shall be permitted to take temporary leaves of absence, not to exceed an aggregate of 14 days per calendar year, for the purpose of engaging in fire or law enforcement training.
(b) An employee who works for an employer employing 50 or more employees who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because the employee has taken time off to engage in fire or law training as provided in subdivision (a), is entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer.
(c) An employee seeking reinstatement and reimbursement pursuant to this section may file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in accordance with Section 98.7, and upon receipt of such a complaint, the Labor Commissioner shall proceed as provided in that section.
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