The Department of Labor Just Announced New Protections for Parents of Special Needs Children

If you have a child with learning or physical disabilities, you’re probably familiar with IEPs–Individual Education Plans. The Department of Labor just released an opinion letter that says that IEP meetings are covered under FMLA and that any such meetings are protected time (as long as you otherwise meet the qualifications for FMLA). Managers are required to allow eligible employees time off (unpaid) for IEP meetings.

What do managers and HR need to know?

The most important take away is that when a parent says, “I need time off for an IEP meeting,” the answer is, “I hope everything goes well. We’ll see you when you get back.” That should, of course, be the answer to other school meetings, but now this has the force of FMLA behind the IEP.

FMLA attorney Jeff Nowak gave some clear guidelines to help managers figure this out. He writes:

  1. Employers should treat a request for FMLA leave to attend an IEP meeting consistent with how they handle all other intermittent FMLA leave requests. That said, the employee is required to provide notice for a foreseeable leave of absence and provide appropriate certification to support the leave request.  In most instances, this should not be a last-minute leave request.

To keep reading, click here: The Department of Labor Just Announced New Protections for Parents of Special Needs Children

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2 thoughts on “The Department of Labor Just Announced New Protections for Parents of Special Needs Children

  1. I would take issue with Point 2 in Nowak’s column. Almost any disciplinary proceeding for a student with an IEP would implicate certain sections of the IDEA regarding the removal of students from their particularly normal day to day learning environment with special education services. This is due to any removal counting towards the cumulative total of days removed that would trigger a manifestation determination. This also implies that short notice meetings may be a routine part of the IEP process for certain students.

    And of course, meetings for a 504 should be just as protected as those for an IEP.

  2. Having been the parent of two children who needed special education services, I had to get creative with my work schedule to meet all the meetings needed once the correct educational program was in place, especially since I was a single parent. I am glad to hear that these meetings are now part of the FLMA, but unfortunately, depending on the program your child is in, these meetings can’t always be planned out.
    Education today expects children to perform within a standard with no exceptions even in a special education class. In order for this to work for a working parent, they (parents) need to advise HR and the management they work with on this need and work out a way to flex their working schedule to accommodate both work and children’s need. This also means the parents have an active role in their child’s education program which extends past the school day.
    Some geographic areas have a better blend of making this work than others and this is not always available to all income levels, especially in public schools.

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