A parent can use intermittent Family and Medical Leave to attend an individualized education program (IEP) meeting for their child, according to a recent federal opinion letter.
The new opinion letter from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division clarified that a parent’s need to attend an IEP meeting that addresses the educational and special medical needs of a child – who has a serious health condition as certified by a health care provider – constitutes a qualifying reason for taking intermittent FMLA leave.
In the situation in question, a couple’s two children have qualifying serious health conditions, “pediatrician-prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy,” according to the department, and these needs are addressed as related services in the IEP. The mother attempted to use intermittent FMLA leave to attend the IEP meetings, but her employer denied the request.
The department, however, sees it differently. DOL previously determined that an employee can use FMLA time to attend care conferences for a person when the employee’s attendance is “clearly essential” to the quality and administration of care for that person.
Here, the department determined that the mother’s attendance at her children’s’ IEP meetings was essential to their care at school, and that their “school environment is suitable to their medical, social, and academic needs.”
Employers need to be mindful of intermittent FMLA requests. If an employee requests intermittent FMLA leave to attend a meeting as the medically responsible person for the care of a family member, the Department of Labor has consistently sided for the employee being able to take the intermittent leave.