On August 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor released an opinion letter which discussed whether an employee may take FMLA leave intermittently to attend school meetings for their children held pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). Specifically, the opinion is based on the following facts:
- An employee has two children with qualifying serious health conditions under the FMLA, which was certified by their physicians;
- The children receive pediatrician-prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy provided by their school district;
- Four times a year, the school holds Committee on Special Education (CSE)/Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings to discuss and review the children’s educational needs, medical needs, well-being, and progress; and
- Despite the fact that the children’s doctors provided certification supporting the employee’s need to take intermittent leave to care for the children, the employee’s employer approved FMLA intermittent leave for medical appointments, but not to attend the CSE/IEP meetings.
Based on these facts (and the FMLA regulations which state FMLA leave may be taken to care for a child if such child has a serious health condition and it may be taken intermittently when medically necessary because of the child’s serious health condition), the DOL determined that “the need to attend CSE/IEP meetings addressing the education and special needs of [the employee’s] children. . . is a qualifying reason for taking intermittent FMLA leave.” Specifically, the employee’s attendance at these meetings “is ‘essential to [the employee’s] ability to provide appropriate physical or psychological care’ to her children.” As such, the employee should be able to take FMLA leave intermittently for these reasons.
What Does This Mean For Employers?
If you are a covered employer under the FMLA and you have an eligible employee who is requesting FMLA leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule to attend meetings for their child(ren) pursuant to the IDEA, approve their leave! (Of course, only approve their leave if the employee has complied with all certification requirements).
If you have any questions about the FMLA, intermittent leave, or this new opinion letter, please contact the attorneys at York Bowman Law, LLC.