The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an Opinion Letter that confirms intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for certain parent-teacher conferences is an acceptable use of the protected leave. In the Opinion Letter, the DOL addressed a parent who sought leave from work to attend Committee on Special Education (CSE) meetings at school. The child suffered from a serious health condition that required the child to receive special education and related-services under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Each quarter, the school district required a CSE meeting with the child’s speech pathologist, school psychologist, occupational therapist and/or physical therapist, school district representative and parent(s) to discuss the child’s Individual Education Programs (IEP), with the participants providing updates, reviewing doctors’ recommendations and test results, and making recommendations for additional pediatrician-prescribed therapy.
The DOL found that attendance at a Special Education/IEP meeting aimed at addressing the educational and special medical needs of children qualified as care of a child with a serious health condition for purposes of FMLA leave. The DOL also clarified that the child’s doctor did not need to be present during the meeting for the leave to qualify under FMLA leave. The Opinion Letter can be found here. This Opinion Letter builds on DOL’s previous finding that “care conferences” related to a family member’s health condition were essential to the ability to provide care and therefore qualified for FMLA leave. See WHD Opinion Letter FMLA-94 (Feb. 27, 1998).
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
FMLA and the state counterpart, the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), will continue to be a windy road full of potholes for covered employers. For previous discussion of recent Opinion Letters issued by DOL, visit our E-Blast Library here. Covered employers should consider each request for FMLA/CFRA leave on a case-by-case basis and are encouraged to consult with legal counsel. Should you have any questions regarding employer obligations under the FMLA please contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.