How should we calculate FMLA leave entitlement for employee whose schedule varies? â€” Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

# How should we calculate FMLA leave entitlement for employee whose schedule varies?

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Q. One of our employees works different hours each week—sometimes 30 hours a week, sometimes 40. She will be going on FMLA leave soon. We’re not sure how to determine how many hours of leave she would be entitled to take under the FMLA. Are all employees permitted to take 480 hours of leave?

A. That depends on whether the employee is taking full weeks of leave or intermittent leave. The FMLA grants employees up to 12 weeks of leave. A week is determined by the number of hours an employee normally works.

Thus, if an employee works 35 hours per week, she would be entitled to 12 weeks of leave, which would total 420 hours (35 x 12), not 480 hours.

The calculation is different for employees who take intermittent leave. When an employee takes leave on an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule, only the amount of leave actually taken counts toward the employee’s leave entitlement. The employee’s actual workweek—that is, the number of hours the employee works each week—is the basis of this leave entitlement. Therefore, if an employee who would otherwise work 40 hours a week takes off eight hours, the employee would use one-fifth of a week of FMLA leave.

When an employee works a part-time schedule, the amount of FMLA leave is determined on a pro rata or proportional basis. For example, if an employee who would normally work 30 hours per week works only 20 hours a week under a reduced-leave schedule, the employee’s 10 hours of leave would constitute one-third of a week of FMLA leave for each week the employee works the reduced-leave schedule.

If an employee’s schedule varies from week to week to such an extent that an employer is unable to determine with any certainty how many hours the employee would otherwise have worked (but for the taking of FMLA leave), calculate the leave entitlement by averaging the hours scheduled over the 12 months prior to the beginning of the leave period (including any hours for which the employee took leave of any type).