Results-Driven Pittsburgh Attorney

How You Can Use FMLA for IEP Meetings

The U.S. Department of Labor has weighed in and provided some guidance for parents seeking to use FMLA as a way to attend IEP meetings, without compromising their jobs. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a labor law that requires covered employers to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. A father wrote the agency, explaining his child's situation, and asking whether his wife's FMLA at her job could be approved to attend four IEP meetings with the district, where their child's therapy providers, psychologist, teachers and others give progress reports and recommendations about care for their child. The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department determined that his wife had a "qualifying reason for taking intermittent FMLA leave." The Division noted that the mother's attendance at IEP meetings appeared "essential to her ability to provide appropriate physical and psychological care." Just as importantly, the Division wrote, "Your wife attends these meetings to help participants make medical decisions concerning your children's medically-prescribed speech, physical and occupational therapy; to discuss your children's well-being and progress with the providers of such services; and to ensure that your children's school environment is suitable to their medical, social and academic needs." While it's not clear as to what disability(ies) were involved, this is definitely a game-changer. If your employer offers FMLA, real consideration should be given about using it to attend IEP meetings. By statute, FMLA can be considered for a "qualified medical and family reason." Now, there is feedback explaining at least some of the considerations the Labor Department took when using it for IEP meetings. This is definitely a step in the right direction, so parents' jobs are not at risk when tasked with the decision between keeping their job and being able to meaningfully participate in IEP meetings.