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What time off counts for the purpose of FMLA intermittent leave?

by on
in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. I told an employee who takes lots of FMLA intermittent leave that all his time out of the office (no matter what it was for) would count against his FMLA time. My VP told me I was wrong and that was absolutely not the law. Who is right?

A.
You should not treat all time out of the office as FMLA leave. The FMLA defines intermittent leave as leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single illness or injury. Leave that is unrelated to the illness or injury does not qualify as intermittent leave (such as a planned vacation unrelated to the illness or injury).

For intermittent leave that is foreseeable, employees must schedule their time off so it does not disrupt the employer’s operations. When the need for intermittent leave is not foreseeable, employees must give notice of the need for leave “as soon as practicable.”

To track the employee’s intermittent leave, you should require the employee to follow your usual and customary procedures for reporting an absence. If the employee’s intermittent leave does not follow a predictable schedule, then you can ask the employee to notify you each time he or she needs to take leave, if that requirement is consistent with your usual and customary procedures.

If the leave does follow a predictable schedule (e.g., for regular dialysis), then you should not require additional documentation for each absence. If you have reason to question the employee’s pattern of absences, you may ask his or her doctor to certify that the pattern is consistent with the employee’s health condition.

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