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Is there such a thing as intermittent childbirth leave?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. We have a question regarding FMLA leave following the birth of a child. One of our employees is pregnant. She has recently immigrated to the United States. She has informed us that she expects to take eight weeks of FMLA leave immediately after the child is born. Then after a few months, she would like to return to her home country to visit with family for a month. In other words, she wants to split up FMLA leave into an eight-week period and a four-week period. Can FMLA leave for a new child be split up in this fashion?

A. The first question I would ask is whether the employee, if she’s a “recent immigrant,” has worked long enough (one year) to qualify for FMLA coverage.

Assuming the employee is in fact eligible for FMLA, your question raises an issue relating to intermittent leave. U.S. Department of Labor regulations do not require an employer to grant intermittent leave for childbirth.

An employer may, of course, voluntarily agree to permit the employee to split up her FMLA leave.

It’s also important to make sure that the reason the parent is requesting intermittent leave is only because of the birth of her child. If the leave were required because either the mother or the child had a serious health condition, the law would allow taking the leave in two or more parts.

Applicable regulation can be found at 29 C.F.R. 825.203(e).

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