Intermittent Leave: An Employer’s HeadacheHR Resource
June 27, 2014 — 4,429 views
Intermittent Leave: An Employer’s Headache
Intermittent FMLA is one more challenge added to the professional plate of human resource managers. If you take your job seriously, you understand the struggle employers have with balancing leave that is guaranteed by federal law with need of the company. Dissatisfaction and confusion surrounding FMLA intermittent leave does not have to lead to headaches when you understand and evaluate the regulations. While employees have a right to take time off as needed, that right does not extend to abusing the law at the employer’s expense.
Generally, this will require close monitoring leave that employees take to watch for abuse patterns. It is also beneficial to develop a policy that is within the guidelines of FMLA regulations. Headache relief is within reach when the policy is enforced and employees are held accountable for complying with certification requirements.
FMLA Requirements for Intermittent Leave
Requirements for intermittent leave are the same as regular continuous leave allowed under FMLA. Additionally, both employers and employees must follow eligibility requirements. Leave is typically granted under FMLA when a medical condition necessitates time off. Employers can require employees to provide a medical certification for the condition.
In addition, employers are entitled to receive information regarding frequency and duration on the period of incapacity for each leave requested. Once the requested leave is approved, employees are allowed to take time off in varied increments including days, hours and minutes. It is not unusual for employees to have multiple intermittent leave cases open during any given time period. Extenuating circumstances may require taking leave without prior notice.
Intermittent Leave Entitlement
Employers covered by intermittent leave must grant up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees within a 12 month period. This unpaid leave can be for one or more of the following reasons:
• Birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn
• Adoption or foster care placement, including time to care for the newly placed child
• Care for immediate family member such as a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition; in-laws are not considered an immediate family member under intermittent FMLA
• Employee has a serious health condition that leaves them unable to work
Employees must work with employers when they need an intermittent or reduced work schedule for known medical treatment. This is necessary to avoid disruption to business operations. The employee’s health care provider must approve this type of schedule.
Transferring Employees to Alternate Positions
Employers can transfer employees to an alternative job that has equivalent pay and benefits in these cases. Generally, this is the best approach when the alternative job can accommodate recurring leave periods better than the regular job.
Combating FMLA Abuse
Minimizing intermittent leave abuse does not have a simple solution that will always constrain employee behavior. Rather, the best way to combat abuse of FMLA protections is to have solid administrative practices and policies.
HR managers should make sure supervisors understand their shared role in designating leave time properly. Fully understanding how often you can request a recertification for medical conditions, when a second medical opinion is appropriate and making sure mission critical work times are not hampered by an employee’s need for medical treatment.