DOL Issues Opinion Letter on FMLA Leave for School Meetings to Discuss IEPs
The Department of Labor (DOL) has released a new opinion letter under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Opinion letters respond to a specific wage-hour inquiry to the DOL from an employer or other entity, and represent the DOL’s official position on that particular issue. Other employers may then look to these opinion letters as general guidance.
FMLA2019-2-A: The DOL found that employees may take FMLA leave to attend school meetings to discuss their disabled child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, public schools must develop IEPs for children receiving special education and related services (such as counseling, medical or psychological services, physical therapy, audiology or speech-language pathology services, etc.). Multiple individuals have input into the IEP, including parents, teachers, administrators, and those providing related services. There may be regular meetings for these individuals to review the child’s educational and medical needs, well-being and progress.
According to the DOL, as long as the child has a serious health condition certified by a health care provider, the parent may take FMLA leave to attend IEP meetings to discuss the child’s educational and special medical needs, even where no doctor is in attendance. Such attendance is “essential to [the employee’s] ability to provide appropriate physical or psychological care” to the child.