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U.S. Department of Labor Releases Three New Opinion Letters


U.S. Department of Labor Releases Three New Opinion Letters

Key takeaways:

  • Committee on Special Education meetings determined to be covered under the FMLA

  • FLSA overtime rules for dual fire and police employment clarified

  • Volunteer status preserved for volunteer reserve deputies performing third party duties

There are three new opinion letters from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which interpret and provide clarity to federal labor laws. These new letters target issues under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  1. Parents are entitled to take FMLA leave to attend a Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting to discuss the Individualized Education Program (IEP) of their son or daughter―Opinion Letter No. 1 (FMLA2019-2-A):

The FMLA provides unpaid leave to eligible employees for their own serious health condition. The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider and provides, in relevant part, that an eligible employee may care for the spouse, son, daughter, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition.

This DOL letter analyzes whether a CSE meeting to discuss a child’s IEP qualifies as FMLA leave, and concluded that it does.

  1. Employees who work in fire and police activities will apply overtime rules in the activity where the employee spends the majority of work time during the work period―Opinion Letter No. 2 (FLSA 2019-11):

The FLSA provides certain exemptions to overtime payment requirements to employees working over 40 hours in a week. This letter addressed the overtime exemption to public agency employees who engage in fire protection and law enforcement activities. For employees who work in both fire protection and law enforcement, it was concluded that overtime is determined by where the employee spends a majority of time during the work period.

  1. Volunteer reserve deputies performing extra duty paid work for third parties do not destroy volunteer status―Opinion Letter No. 3 (FLSA 2019-12):

This DOL letter addresses the employment status of reserve deputies who perform paid extra duty work to volunteer for third parties. The letter concluded that under the facts presented, volunteer status remains intact. It’s important to the analysis that deputies’ access to the paid work was in no way related to how many hours they volunteered, or the type or quality of their volunteer work.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please reach out to: