FMLA Guidelines: Intermittent Use of FMLA Eligibility and Reduced Schedules

Serious Health Condition, Serious Injury or Illness, and Qualifying Exigency

An employee can use his or her 12 or 26 weeks of FMLA eligibility on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis due to the serious health condition of the employee; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness; or to address a qualifying exigency.

A reduced schedule or intermittent absences are appropriate under the FMLA when:

Employee’s serious health condition:

  • The reduced schedule or intermittent absences are medically necessary, and
  • The recommended care can best be provided through a reduction in hours or by intermittent absences from work.

Care of a family member with a serious health condition:

  • A family member’s serious health condition results in intermittent absences or a reduced schedule for the employee.

Care of a covered servicemember:

  • A covered servicemember’s serious injury or illness results in intermittent absences or a reduced schedule for the employee.

Qualifying exigency:

  • The qualifying exigency results in intermittent absences or a reduced schedule for the employee.

Attention:  If a department is unable to accommodate an employee’s need for a reduced schedule, resulting in the employee being absent on a continuous basis, only the portion of the continuous absence that is necessary may be counted against the employee’s 12 or 26 weeks of FMLA coverage.

Birth, Adoption or Foster Care

At the department’s discretion, an employee may use his or her 12 weeks of FMLA eligibility on a reduced schedule basis or intermittently after the birth of the employee’s child or the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.  Departments are encouraged to grant an employee’s request for a reduced schedule or the intermittent use of FMLA wholly or in part when the employee’s absence will not unduly disrupt the operation of the department.

The decision to grant an employee’s request for a reduced schedule or intermittent use of FMLA after the birth of the employee’s child or the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care is solely at the discretion of the employee’s department.

Scheduling Work

An employee intending to be absent from work on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis must make a reasonable effort to schedule the absences to not disrupt the department’s operations.

An employee who requests to be absent from work on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis for the employee’s or a family member’s serious health condition, or the serious injury or illness of a covered servicemember where the absences are foreseeable/planned may be temporarily transferred to an alternate position with equivalent pay and benefits that better meets the operational needs of the employee’s department.  The alternate position need not have equivalent duties.  At the conclusion of the intermittent use of FMLA eligibility or a reduced schedule, the employee will be restored to his or her former position or an equivalent position.  For a definition of “equivalent position”, please see the return to work section of this tutorial.

An employee may not be transferred to an alternate position where the absences are unforeseeable/unplanned.  Because of the unforeseeable nature of absences due to qualifying exigencies, an employee may not be transferred alternate position when attending to a qualifying exigency.

An employee may not be transferred to an alternate position to discourage the employee from being absent or otherwise cause a hardship on the employee.