Elementary school kids arrive at school from the school busAs students return to school, employers should be mindful of a new U.S. Department of Labor opinion letter impacting when a parent may use qualifying intermittent FMLA leave. On August 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor concluded that an employee’s need to attend a Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting to discuss the Individualized Education Program (IEP) of the employee’s son or daughter can qualify as FMLA protected leave.

The U.S. DOL explained that such meetings are held to address the educational and special medical needs of a student who has a serious health condition as certified by a health care provider. The parent’s attendance at such meetings helps the participants make medical decisions concerning the child’s medically-prescribed speech, physical and occupational therapy; allows the parties to discuss the child’s wellbeing and progress with service providers; and ensures the child’s school environment is suitable to the student’s medical, social and academic needs.

Accordingly, when parents attend such meetings, the time away from work can qualify as protected FMLA leave even though the student’s physician does not attend the CSE/IEP meetings.