Earlier this week, the DOL issued an opinion letter addressing whether an employee could use intermittent FMLA leave to attend school meetings scheduled to address the employee’s child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The employee had two children with qualifying serious health conditions and the employee had been approved to take intermittent leave to take the children to medical appointments. The DOL concluded that FMLA intermittent leave could be used for the employee to attend IEP meetings.
The DOL’s opinion was based on the fact that: (i) the IEP meetings were attended by a speech pathologist, school psychologist, occupational therapist and/or physical therapist as well as teachers and school administrators; and (ii) attendance at the meetings constituted care for a family member with a serious health condition, in part, because care for a family member includes making arrangements for changes in care.
The fact that the meeting was at the school and the doctor for the children was not present at the IEP meetings did not alter the DOL’s conclusion. Instead, the DOL found that FMLA leave could be used because the employee’s attendance at the IEP meetings was essential to the employee’s ability to provide appropriate physical or psychological care to her children because the employee was attending the meetings to help participants make medical decisions concerning her children’s medically-prescribed speech, physical, and occupational therapy, to discuss the children’s well-being and progress with the providers of such services, and to ensure that the children’s school environment is suitable to their medical, social, and academic needs.
The take-away from this opinion letter is for employers to remember that care for a family member can be broadly interpreted, and employers need to carefully analyze requests for intermittent leave from employees caring for a family member.
The opinion letter is here: 2019_08_08_2A_FMLA (03242674x7AC43)