Paper Trails

What is intermittent leave?

Understanding all of the nuances of human resource laws is not only a daunting task, but also a critical responsibility for every business owner. As your business expands and you onboard more employees, the complexity of these laws grows exponentially. With each new employee, there are additional scenarios in which they may need to take leave. From paid leave to unpaid leave, sick leave, military leave, and even intermittent leave, there are various types of leave that employees can utilize in different circumstances.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of intermittent leave. By the time you finish reading, you will have a thorough understanding of what this entails. Moreover, you will gain valuable insights into how employees can effectively utilize intermittent leave and the legal framework that governs its’ use.

Stay tuned as equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate this crucial aspect of human resource management.

What is intermittent leave?

Intermittent leave falls under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). As you may already know, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees from termination due to extended leave for certain medical scenarios. This act provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for serious family health issues or situations.

Under FMLA, employees are allowed to take what is known as intermittent leave.  This is leave taken from their FMLA entitlement in multiple blocks of time, with each block being less than the full FMLA leave.  This is typically taken for the same ongoing reason.

What are examples of intermittent leave?

Let’s explore two examples of this type of leave.

Scenario 1: In this situation, employees may need to take a day off each week to attend their ongoing cancer treatments. This is a perfect example of how intermittent leave can be utilized to provide the necessary flexibility for medical appointments and treatments.

Scenario 2: Another scenario where this leave becomes relevant is with pregnant employees who experience severe morning sickness. As you can imagine, the severity of morning sickness can vary from day to day, sometimes even from hour to hour. Therefore, it is crucial for pregnant employees to have the ability to take leave as needed to manage their symptoms effectively. Intermittent leave allows them to do just that.

What are other rules governing this type of leave?

Now that you have gained a clear understanding of the concept of intermittent leave and have familiarized yourself with a few practical examples, let’s delve into the additional rules that accompany this type of leave. It is crucial to be aware of these rules to ensure a smooth and efficient process. By understanding and adhering to these guidelines, you and your employees can successfully navigate intermittent leave and maximize its’ benefits.

When can this leave be taken?

Intermittent leave can be taken whenever it’s medically necessary under the same rules as FMLA. This means that if employees have a medical condition that requires occasional time off from work, they are entitled to take intermittent leave to attend to their health needs. Additionally, intermittent leave can also be taken in certain instances related to covered service members. If a family member is a covered service member and needs your assistance or support, employees can take intermittent leave to fulfill those responsibilities.

Furthermore, employees can take this type of leave for baby bonding. As a new parent, employees may want to spend quality time with newborns and establish a strong bond. In such cases, they can take intermittent leave. However, please note that intermittent bonding leave requires employer approval.

How can this be taken?

It’s important to note that employees are allowed to take leave in small increments.  Employers cannot impose a requirement for them to take leave in increments greater than an hour.  For example, if you currently track paid time off (PTO) in 15-minute increments, you must allow 15-minute increments for intermittent leave under FMLA as well. On the other hand, if your policy allows PTO to be taken in four-hour increments, it is still required to allow FMLA to be taken in increments as small as one hour. This ensures that employees have the flexibility to address their personal or medical needs without any unnecessary burden.

Must I allow my employees to do this?

Intermittent leave falls under FMLA and your business MUST provide FMLA to your eligible employees if you are a:

  1. private employer with 50 or more employees, and
  2. have been in business for 20 or more workweeks in the current of preceding calendar year.

The Department of Labor classifies eligible employees as those who:

  1. have worked for their employer at least 12 months,
  2. worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months,
  3. and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

When counting the number of employees in your business, be sure to include any employee who appears on your payroll any day of the calendar week.  This includes employees that did not receive any compensation for that week.  Once your business meets the above requirements, you must offer FMLA until you are below 50 employees for 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

If your business is considered a public or educational agency, your employees must receive FMLA coverage regardless of the number of employees you have.

Well, there you have.  You should now know how your business must navigate the complexities of intermittent leave and also why it is beneficial for your employees to have access to this type of leave.  For more information on this topic, or help managing your business and its’ benefits, feel free to contact us here.