The New School Year: FMLA and Employees’ Absence for School-Related Meetings
Work-life balance is a critical component of business. However, the line between what is “required” by law for employee absence and what employers “should” do is sometimes blurred. A recent Department of Labor (DOL) decision speaks specifically to the issue of employees taking leave for their children’s school-related meetings under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
As a general matter, the FMLA applies to employers with fifty (50) or more employees, requiring that employees are provided with leave for their own or family-related qualifying health conditions. The DOL’s recent decision states that if the employee’s school-related meetings are taken in connection with a child’s “serious health condition,” they may be eligible for FML. The decision specifically addressed the situation of an employee’s request to take leave for school meetings surrounding their children’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The DOL found that the employee could use FML to attend the meetings, which were a type of “making arrangements for changes in care” – typically covered by the FMLA.
Based on this decision, I recommend that employers implementing FMLA first identify whether the employees’ school-related meeting is linked to a child’s serious health condition – or not. If the meeting is linked to the parents’ care for their child’s medical condition (which can include mental and physical conditions) a medical certification should document the FML request. Importantly, every request for FML should be taken seriously by employers and fully-vetted to ensure compliance with the law. Assistance from counsel can help navigate gray areas and create policies that minimize liability. If you have any questions about a leave issue, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss.
If you have any questions about this or any other Labor and Employment topics, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-745-1849
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Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.
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