FMLA: Scheduling Foreseeable Leave

The FMLA allows employers to negotiate with employees the date when they’re going to start taking time off if the leave is foreseeable. The law says that employees should schedule their leave “so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.”

Elective surgery, for example, could be performed at a date more convenient to your needs as long as any postponement doesn’t endanger the health of the employee or the family member involved.

A parent can take leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child any time in the first 12 months after the birth or adoption. The employee must conclude the leave before the 12-month period ends. Presumably, the idea is that if a working mother takes her 12 weeks and then returns to work, the father can care for the baby for the next 12 weeks.

If both parents work for the same company, they’re entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks for the birth or adoption of a child. In this case, each parent would have the difference between 12 weeks and the amount of leave they took for the child for any other legitimate FMLA reason in that year.

Example: Bob and Linda Jones have a child and are employed at the same company. Bob takes four weeks’ leave, and Linda takes eight weeks’ leave related to their child’s arrival. Bob still has eight weeks of leave to use in that year for any other FMLA purpose; Linda has four.