‘Serious health conditions’ necessary for consideration
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a statement confirming that a parent is entitled to time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend a meeting at school to discuss his or her child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
The facts under consideration in the opinion letter assume:
- the employee’s child had a qualifying serious health condition
- The child’s doctor had completed a certification supporting the employee’s need to take intermittent leave to care for the child
- The child received pediatrician-prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy provided by the school district
- A speech pathologist, school psychologist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist participated in the meetings and provided updates regarding the child’s progress and areas of concern
- The team reviewed recommendations from the child’s doctors and made recommendations for additional therapy
The DOL quickly qualified that the ruling does not give parents unlimited ability to take FMLA for school meetings. The child in question must have a serious health condition, and employers are within their rights to request certification of said condition. Employees are required to give 30 days’ notice (or a reasonable frame of time) before taking the time off.
Employers that receive requests for FMLA leave in connection with school meetings may want to consider them on a case-by-case basis—including considering whether the purpose of the meeting involves addressing the child’s serious health condition—to determine whether the FMLA applies to the particular circumstances at issue.