FMLA Extends to Children's Special Education Meetings

Published Friday, August 16, 2019

On August 8, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter clarifying that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers an eligible employee’s attendance at their child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. The DOL stated that under FMLA, a child whose medical condition mandates an IEP amounts to “providing care for a family member with a serious health condition” since “to care for” also means “to make arrangements in changes to care.”

The opinion letter further explains that a doctor does not have to be present at the IEP meetings for an eligible employee to be entitled to intermittent FMLA leave. However, employers can still require an employee to provide a copy of a certification issued by a healthcare provider to support their request to take such leave.

With this clarification, it is important for employers to differentiate IEP meetings from general school meetings. An IEP is made available through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and applies to students who are eligible for special education. FMLA does not apply to meetings that are not related to serious health conditions, such as school disciplinary meetings.

As a reminder, under FMLA, an eligible employee is one who has worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave; works at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and has worked for the company for 12 months.

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