intermittent leave

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) recognizes that workers in the United States sometimes need a break to tend to serious health and family issues. The FMLA gives you 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for yourself and your family when there are extreme circumstances.

While FMLA laws may be a life preserver in the middle of a crisis, their provisions aren’t always ideal. What happens when you need time off, but 12 weeks are too many? Is intermittent FMLA leave an option? 

What Is FMLA Leave? 

Like many other states, California’s job market consists of a lot of “at-will” employment. This means that you or your employer can end your employment at any time. This policy can drain you when a serious personal issue requires a lot of time off from work. You want to take time to heal or help a loved one, but you don’t want to lose your job. In steps the FMLA.

In many cases, the FMLA gives you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to handle certain health and family issues. The law also requires your employer to hold your job and benefits when you take time off for certain personal and family reasons.

Who Is Eligible to Receive FMLA Benefits?

Under FMLA guidelines, you could can receive unpaid time off with job and benefit protection if you need to address:

  • The birth of your child;
  • Bonding with your newborn child;
  • The placement of an adopted or foster child in your home;
  • Bonding with a new adopted or foster child;
  • Caring for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • Your own medical needs related to a serious health condition; or
  • Exigent matters related to the active duty of a spouse, child, or parent.

If you need to take care of a covered servicemember who has a serious injury or illness, you can receive up to 26 weeks of protected leave in a year.

Only employers that have 50 or more employees within 75 miles have to provide FMLA benefits. You have to have worked for your employer for at least 12 months to qualify. You also have to have worked at least 1,250 hours in the year before starting leave to qualify. 

Do I Have to Take All My FMLA Leave at Once?

No, you don’t have to take all 12 weeks of your FMLA leave at once. Intermittent leave can be an option, but you have to be prepared and organized. You can take intermittent leave when it’s medically necessary. 

Qualifying for Intermittent FMLA Leave

Before granting you leave, your employer can require you to provide a healthcare provider’s note for you or your family. This note must certify that you or your family member has a serious health condition. If your healthcare provider recommends that you break up your 12 weeks of leave into pieces or a reduced work schedule, they need to communicate that in their certifying letter.

These forms of intermediate leave may be necessary to address matters such as chronic illness or ongoing medical treatment. Leave in an intermittent or reduced-schedule form also requires that you make reasonable efforts to work with your employer’s schedule to avoid disrupting work operations. 

Intermediate Medical and Family Leave Under California Law

Your right to family and medical leave exists under laws other than the FMLA. California law also allows you to take up to 12 weeks of protected leave for serious health conditions and welcoming a child. Leave under the California Family Rights Act can also be taken intermittently under circumstances similar to the FMLA. 

Between FMLA and California law, whichever law gives you the most leave benefits is the law that controls. But whichever law applies, you should give your employer at least 30 days’ notice before taking leave, if possible. 

If your employer does not protect your job and benefits while you are on leave, speak to an experienced wrongful termination attorney about your options for recovery.

Contact a Wrongful Termination Attorney to Protect Your Rights

You should have balance between your work and personal life, so you can care for yourself and loved ones. At the Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, we have over 70  years of employment law experience to effectively address your workplace needs. We understand how employers move in workplace cases because we used to work for employers and know how they operate. We also limit our caseload so we can maximize resources to help you win.

Don’t face a crisis of work and life alone. Contact us online today, or call us at 818-293-5874 for a free case review. 


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