Parents who have children with disabilities invest a great deal of time into the child’s well-being. This does not only include their general health, but their education as well. However, it can be difficult for many parents to balance the needs of their children with their work life. It is because of this that a recent opinion letter from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) shows where the future of law may be heading in allowing some relief to these parents.
Department of Labor’s Opinion Letter
The letter from the DOL was released in August of this year in response to an inquiry from two parents. The inquiry was in regard to whether attending IEP meetings for their children was considered “qualified leave” under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The parents in question had two children with serious health conditions and went to IEP meetings at the school four times a year in order to assess their children’s needs and progress. While the parents received FMLA leave to drive their children to doctor’s appointments, one of the parents was denied leave for the IEP meetings. It is because of this that they wrote to the DOL.
In response to this inquiry, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division confirmed what the parents believed to be true: the FMLA covered the parent’s leave. In the letter, the DOL defended their decision by saying that the child’s school provided necessary services for these children and parents must be updated on the needs of their children. It is because of this that attending IEP meetings is essential to caring for the child’s needs. In the Opinion, the DOL stated that in order to “care” for a family member with serious health conditions, it involves making “arrangements for changes in care.” The letter went on to explain that the child’s doctor did not need to be present at the meeting in order for it to qualify for intermittent FMLA leave.
What Does This Mean for Future Cases?
The Opinion that was released from the DOL was, in fact, specific to the case of the two parents in question. However, it is clear that the determination they made will benefit parents to children with disabilities throughout Pennsylvania who are facing the same issue. The letter can be interpreted as an invitation for parents around the country, let alone the state, to apply for FMLA leave to attend IEP meetings.
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Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.