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What Is Intermittent Leave?

Posted on August 15, 2022 by Legal Team

All eligible employees with qualifying medical conditions or family circumstances in Ohio may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without fear of losing their jobs under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you need shorter periods of time off on a more consistent basis to deal with your medical condition, however, you do not have to take all 12 weeks off consecutively. Eligible workers are permitted to use the 12 allocated weeks intermittently – even taking off as little as 15 minutes at a time, in some circumstances.

Your Right to Intermittent Leave Under the FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act does not require workers to use all 12 weeks of available unpaid leave at once. When it is medically necessary, an employee may choose to take his or her FMLA leave intermittently instead, meaning spaced out over a period of time. For example, a worker may qualify to shorten his or her work day or work weeks throughout the year for ongoing medical care using FMLA leave.

If you wish to use your leave intermittently rather than all at once, you must make a reasonable effort to organize your schedule so as to not unduly disrupt your employer’s operations. You must work together with your employer to schedule your intermittent leave or attend medical treatments in a way that disrupts business as little as possible. Your intermittent leave will also be subject to the approval of your health care provider.

Can Your Employer Change Your Job for Taking Intermittent Leave?

Yes. Under the rules of the FMLA, an employer has the right to temporarily transfer an employee to an alternative job if he or she needs intermittent medical leave that will unduly disrupt business operations. The alternative job may have a schedule or work responsibilities that better accommodate recurring time off. In this case, however, the alternative job must have the same pay and employment benefits as the worker’s regular job. The worker’s previous job must also be made available when the worker is ready to return.

Who Qualifies for Intermittent Leave?

Only certain workers qualify to take intermittent FMLA leave. Employees may take their unpaid job-protected leave intermittently only when it is medically necessary to do so. This means you must obtain a doctor’s note explaining why intermittent medical leave is necessary, such as for a chronic condition, regular doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy treatments, dialysis or to care for a loved one with a serious illness. If you aren’t eligible for intermittent leave based on your medical condition or family matter, you may have to take your leave all at once or in larger portions throughout the year.

You do not need your employer’s approval to take FMLA leave or use your time off intermittently if you have proof of medically necessary circumstances. However, if you wish to use intermittent FMLA leave to bond with a newborn baby or newly placed adopted or foster child, your employer must approve of the requested leave first. In addition, this type of leave must end within 12 months of the birth or placement of the child.

Can You Get Paid for FMLA Leave?

Although it is not legally required, an employer may choose to continue paying a worker on FMLA leave. In addition, in certain circumstances, the employee can choose to substitute or simultaneously use accrued paid leave – such as sick days or paid vacation time – during some or all of the intermittent leave. The right to do this is determined by the terms of the normal leave policy in the worker’s employment contract. An employer can also require a worker to use his or her paid leave concurrently with FMLA, under certain conditions. 

How Do You Request Intermittent Leave?

If you wish to use your protected unpaid leave from the Family and Medical Leave Act, submit a request for intermittent leave as soon as possible to your employer. The best practice is to notify your employer at least 30 days in advance. When this is not possible due to an unforeseeable medical or family emergency, submit your request as soon as possible or practicable. If you are having trouble taking your FMLA leave intermittently, contact an employment lawyer in Ohio for assistance.