Can you take your FMLA leave intermittently?

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees to care for children, immediate family members or their own medical needs.

In some circumstances, you may use your FMLA leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule basis.

Medical leave

Your employer must allow you to take your FMLA leave intermittently if it is medically necessary. For example, if you have a medical condition that requires you to have numerous operations but you are able to work between surgeries, you may be entitled to use your FMLA leave when you need time off for a procedure.

Caring for children

You can take FMLA leave to care for a newborn, an adopted child or a foster child within 12 months of the child’s arrival. The law gives you the right to use your leave to support your pregnant spouse or bond with your child.

Your employer does not have to approve intermittent leave or a reduced schedule for a new child without a medical reason. If, for example, you want to leave work early to pick up your foster child from school, your employer may deny reduced schedule leave for this purpose. However, if your new baby has a medical condition, your employer must allow you to take intermittent leave to care for your child.

Keeping your job

The FMLA protects you from losing your job for taking eligible leave. However, if necessary, your employer can assign you to a different position so long as you retain the same pay and benefits.

The Family and Medical Leave Act offers flexibility for those who need it, but there are also some restrictions. Before planning your FMLA leave, it is important to understand your rights and your employer’s obligations.