The most recent Department of Labor (DOL) Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) opinion letter concludes that intermittent family and medical leave (FML) can be used for an employee’s attendance at her son or daughter’s individualized education program (IEP) meetings.
Leave for the employee to attend IEP or Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings for her children with serious health conditions qualified for intermittent FML because her attendance at the meetings is essential to the employee’s ability to provide physical or psychological care to her children. Relevant facts supporting the need for leave include the following:
- The children have a serious health condition as certified by a health care provider
- Pediatrician-prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy is provided by the school district
- The mother’s attendance at the ARD is necessary to help attendees make medical decisions concerning the children’s therapy
- The child’s doctor doesn’t need to be present at the ARD for the leave to qualify for intermittent FML
Employers must recognize these meetings are different than other school meetings (e.g., disciplinary meetings, parent-teacher conferences) and events that wouldn't qualify as FML. Requests to attend ARD meetings should be treated the same as other requests for intermittent FML and managers should be trained to respond appropriately. HR can require an employee to provide notice of foreseeable leave and documentation including medical certification verifying a serious health condition and need for continuing treatment and notice of scheduled ARD meetings.
For more information on the topic, check out FMLA Opinion Letter FMLA2019-2-A.
April Mabry is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. Send April an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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