According to a recently written Department of Labor (DOL) opinion letter, parents can take FMLA leave to attend special education meetings, specifically Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.
What qualifies as an IEP meeting?
An IEP is an individualized educational program provided for a child that qualifies through evaluation. Once your child qualifies for an IEP, you may be required to attend IEP meetings a few times a year. These meetings take place to review your child’s education, medical needs and progress. The DOL noted that these meetings are essential for a parent’s ability to provide appropriate care for a child enrolled in an approved IEP.
When can I attend an IEP meeting?
If your employer is required to adhere to FMLA and you qualify to take FMLA leave, you are allowed to attend scheduled IEP meetings whenever they are scheduled. If you are allowed to schedule the meeting time, it is wise to work with your employer on an agreeable time.
Are educational meetings other than IEP meetings covered under FMLA?
FMLA leave is provided for employees to care for children with serious health concerns. If a meeting is needed for a child with a serious health concern, it may be covered under FMLA. Meetings outside of this scope, like a disciplinary meeting, are not covered under FMLA.
My employer is not required to provide FMLA leave. Can I still take time off for an IEP meeting?
If your employer is not required to provide FMLA leave, refer to your state law. Some states provide laws that require employers to provide leave for parents to attend some of their child’s school related activities. These jurisdictions include: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington D.C.
If you are not located in any of these states, you should still speak with your employer. Many employers will provide an accommodation for a parent to attend important meetings regarding their children. If your employer insists that you use vacation time and you do not have any vacation time left to use, you should make a recommendation to your employer on how you will make up the missed time.
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