On August 8, 2019, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor released an opinion letter that may alleviate some stress from working parents who have children with Individualized Education Programs (“IEPs”). The facts presented were straightforward: a mother of two children with qualifying serious health conditions under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) sought intermittent leave to attend IEP meetings. While her employer approved her request for intermittent leave to take the children to medical appointments, it denied her request to take intermittent leave to attend IEP meetings.
The Wage and Hour Division opined that the wife should be entitled to use leave intermittently to attend the IEP meetings. It reasoned that the FMLA’s allowance to care for a family member includes “mak[ing] arrangements for changes in care . . . .” 29 CFR 825.124(a)‑(b). Making arrangements for changes in care included IEP meetings, the Wage and Hour Division concluded, because the IEP meetings addressed the educational and special medical needs of the children. Additionally, the opinion provided that making arrangements for changes in care did not necessarily involve a facility that provides medical treatment.
The opinion does not impact all workers, as only those employed by employers subject to the FMLA are covered. However, the opinion is a welcome relief for many parents who feared repercussions for leaving work to attend their children’s IEP meetings. The opinion is also a beneficial development for school districts, which are required to take steps to ensure one or both parents are present at IEP meetings. School district staff should be informed that it may be necessary to sign paperwork for a parent to obtain intermittent leave under the FMLA.
The opinion may be accessed here.