Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 856
By: Dutton
Economic Development


Recent studies have indicated that students whose parents are involved in
their school activities tend to do better in their schoolwork.  The studies
also show that these students also tend to pose less of a discipline
problem in school than those students whose parents are not involved in
their school activities.  Current law requires that parents attend
disciplinary hearings held for their children. The law does not, however,
address factors that may inhibit parental involvement in school activities.
One of the major factors parents face is the economic hardship they may
endure if their pay is docked because they take time off from work to
attend school activities. House Bill 856 entitles parents to up to two
hours a semester of time off from work to participate in activities
involving their child's education. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Workforce Commission in
SECTION 1 (Section 83.010, Labor Code) of this bill. 


House Bill 856  amends the Labor Code to entitle an employee to time off of
up to two hours in each semester to meet with the teacher of  an employee's
child or to participate in an activity at the child's school.  Prior to
taking time off, an employee must provide an employer with reasonable
advance written notice.  An employee is not required to use existing
vacation leave time, personal leave time, or compensatory leave time for
this purpose, except as otherwise provided by a collective bargaining
agreement entered into before September 1, 2001.  Use of this leave time
may not be restricted by a term or condition adopted under such an
agreement entered into on or after September 1, 2001.  The bill prohibits
an employer from reducing the pay otherwise owed to the employee  for any
pay period because of time taken off during the period for this purpose. 

The bill requires an employee to provide specified documentation to an
employer of participation in a particular activity on request.  In the
event that both parents work for the same employer, the entitlement for
leave may be exercised only by the first employee to request it.  The other
parent is entitled to time off to attend the activity only as approved by
the employer. 

The bill prohibits an employer from suspending or terminating the
employment of or discriminating against an employee who takes a planned
absence authorized by this bill if the employee has given appropriate
written notice.  The bill provides that an employer who wrongfully suspends
or terminates an employee's employment is liable for a civil penalty not to
exceed $1,000, and sets forth provisions for collection of the penalty. An
employee whose employment is wrongfully suspended or terminated is entitled

_ reinstatement to the employee's former position or a comparable position
in terms of compensation, benefits, and other conditions of employment; 

_compensation for wages lost during the period of suspension or
termination; and 

 _reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights lost because of the
suspension or termination. 

The bill requires each employer to inform employees of their rights as set
forth in this bill by posting a conspicuous sign in a prominent location in
the workplace.  The Texas Workforce Commission is required by rule to
prescribe the design and content of the sign. 


September 1, 2001.