DOL Issues Opinion Letter on Using FMLA Leave for Child IEP Management

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August 8, 2019

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced a new opinion letter from the Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on whether or not leave may be taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in order to attend a Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting to discuss the Individualized Education Program (IEP) of the employee’s child.

In FMLA 2019-2-A, the WHD stated that needing to attend CSE/IEP meetings to address the educational and special needs of a child who has serious health conditions, is a qualifying reason for taking intermittent FMLA leave. There, an individual’s children receive pediatrician-prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy provided by the school district. The school holds quarterly CSE/IEP meetings to review the children’s needs, well-being, and progress, and includes the children’s healthcare providers employed or contracted by the school district.

The DOL stated that making arrangements for changes in care, including reviewing a child’s CSE/IEP, qualifies as care for a family member with a serious health condition. Specifically, the parent’s attendance at IEP meetings is “‘essential to [her] ability to provide appropriate physical or psychological care’” to the child. This may include care that does not involve a facility that provides medical treatment, and the child’s doctor does not need to be present at the CSE/IEP meetings.

Employers should initiate the FMLA process, including documentation of the request and designation of the leave time, for an employee who is requesting time off to attend meetings related to the care of a child with a serious health condition. Opinion letters are responses from the WHD to submitted queries, are primarily informative in nature, and are published by the WHD to clarify or interpret existing regulations. In short, they act as a guide for employers to glean how the DOL would treat similar situations.

Action Items

  1. Review FMLA intermittent leave processes and documentation.
  2. Have managers trained on FMLA eligibility and leave purposes.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2019 ManagEase

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