FMLA Rules, Requirements, Guidelines - Intermittent FMLA Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Covered Employers

The FMLA applies to:
  • All private-sector employers with 50 or more employees
  • All local, state, and federal government agencies, regardless of the number of employees
  • All public and private elementary and secondary schools

Eligible Employees

Only eligible employees are entitled to take FMLA leave. An eligible employee is one who:
  • Works for a covered employer
  • Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months
  • Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave
  • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles

Leave Entitlement

Eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
  • The birth of a child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, child, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status
An eligible employee may take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a "single 12-month period":
  • To care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness, when the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the service member

Intermittent Leave

Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer's operations.

Employers may require employees to use accrued paid leave, such as sick or vacation time, during the FMLA leave.


Employees must comply with their employer's usual and customary requirements for requesting leave and provide enough information for their employer to reasonably determine whether the FMLA may apply to the leave request. Employees generally must request leave 30 days in advance when the need for leave is foreseeable. When the need for leave is foreseeable less than 30 days in advance or is unforeseeable, employees must provide notice as soon as possible and practicable under the circumstances.

Covered employers must:
  • Post a notice explaining rights and responsibilities under the FMLA
  • Include information about the FMLA in their employee handbooks or provide information to new employees upon hire
  • When an employee requests FMLA leave or the employer acquires knowledge that leave may be for a FMLA-qualifying reason, provide the employee with notice concerning his or her eligibility for FMLA leave and his or her rights and responsibilities under the FMLA
  • Notify employees whether leave is designated as FMLA leave and the amount of leave that will be deducted from the employee's FMLA entitlement

Medical Certification

When an employee requests FMLA leave due to his or her own serious health condition or a covered family member's serious health condition, the employer may require certification in support of the leave from a health care provider. An employer may also require second or third medical opinions (at the employer's expense) and periodic re-certification of a serious health condition.

Job Restoration And Health Benefits

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee's use of FMLA leave cannot be counted against the employee under a 'no-fault' attendance policy. Employers are also required to continue group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave, and the employee must continue to pay his or her share of the premium.

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