Does FMLA Leave Have to Be Used All at Once?

The short answer is no. The Family Medical Leave Act is federal legislation that protects an employee’s right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave under qualifying circumstances. During leave, the employee’s job is protected – meaning the employee can’t be terminated while on leave. Upon the employee’s return, the employer must provide the same position or a similar one with equivalent or better pay and benefits than before the leave was taken.

Qualifying circumstances include the following:

  • Preparation for the birth of a child and to bond with it as a newborn;
  • Adoption of a child or placement in foster care to permit a bonding period;
  • When an immediate family member (such as a child, spouse, or parent) with a serious health condition needs care from the employee;
  • When the employee is themselves afflicted by a serious health condition that prevents them from working; and
  • Qualifying needs for an employee’s immediate relative who is on covered active duty as a member of the military.

Depending upon your reason to take leave, you may be wondering if you must take your 12 weeks of FMLA leave all at once. In short, the answer is no – but there are certain considerations you make take into account before asking for an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.

What Workers Should Know about Intermittent & Reduced Leave Schedules

While you cannot extend the total amount of leave time you get, under certain circumstances you may be able to pace it out in a way that makes it last longer over the 12-month period where your qualifying reason remains valid.

In other words, it’s possible to work out a system where you continue your work in between time off for your FMLA-qualified reason. You can accomplish this by arranging a modified or reduced schedule with your employer that uses your 12 weeks of FMLA leave to adjust your otherwise employer-required daily or weekly schedule.

Such can be the case if you are caring for your own serious medical condition or that of a relative, especially when regular visits to the doctor or hospital are anticipated. Employees who want to take FMLA leave to bond with their newly born or adopted children can also be taken intermittently, but an employer must approve the schedule proposed by the employee.

Despite the flexibility that may be afforded in how FMLA leave can be used, an alternative arrangement of leave time cannot extend beyond 12 months after it began.

Contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP for Legal Help

At Haeggquist & Eck, LLP, it’s our goal to help employees hold their employers accountable for violating their employment rights. We are fearless advocates for our clients who were taken advantage of or abused by their employers. It’s our job to help them fight for justice through fair and just compensation while holding their employers accountable for violating their rights.

If you think your FMLA rights were violated, reach out to Haeggquist & Eck, LLP today to schedule a case evaluation. After learning more about your situation, we’ll be able to assess whether or not you may have a strong case. We’ll also inform you of potential options you have for moving forward with your claim, and how our firm can help you fight for what you deserve.

Take advantage of our free case evaluation by scheduling yours today. Call us at (619) 468-5222 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with someone who can help.

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