Under the FMLA, employees may take leave in several ways—continuous leave is just one type of FMLA leave that employees can take. In certain circumstances, leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced-leave schedule basis.
Intermittent leave is taken in separate blocks (for example, a week of leave here and there), rather than continuously.
Reduced-leave schedule decreases an employee’s usual number of hours per workweek or per workday (for example, a change from full-time status to part-time status).
In general, an employee may take intermittent leave or reduced leave, only if the employer agrees and for the following reasons:
- Foster care placement of his or her child.
- Care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
- Leave for the employee’s own serious health condition
- Leave for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if it is medically necessary and the medical need can be best accommodated through an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule.
- An urgent need which arises as a result of an employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent serving on covered active military duty.
- Planned medical treatment- the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so that it does not overly disrupt the employer’s operations.
If an employee takes intermittent or reduced leave an employer may require the employee to transfer temporarily to an available alternative position for which they must be qualified. The position must provide equivalent pay and benefits (though not equivalent duties) and must accommodate recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular position. An employer may not transfer an employee to an alternative position n order to discourage the employee from taking leave or creating a hardship for the employee such as being reassigned from the dayshift to the graveyard shift.
When an employee takes FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule basis, the employer must account for the leave using an increment equal to but not greater than one hour, and an employee’s FMLA leave entitlement may not be reduced by more than the amount of leave actually taken.
If it is physically impossible for an employee using intermittent leave or working a reduced-leave schedule to begin or end work midway through a shift (such as a flight attendant), the entire period that the employee is forced to be absent is designated as FMLA leave and counts against the employee’s FMLA entitlement.