clock flickr katerhaAt HR Law & Solutions last month, attendees asked tough questions about handling requests for intermittent leave under the FMLA. We promised to write a blog post summarizing current rules and regulations, so here goes:

Intermittent leave is FMLA taken in periodic short blocks of time for a single FMLA qualifying reason. Common reasons for intermittent leave include time off for an employee’s occasional medical appointments, flare-ups of a chronic condition (ex. migraines), or periodic treatment of an ongoing disease (ex. chemotherapy). Intermittent leave can also be taken for a family member’s serious health condition or for military caregiver leave. Employers must also grant intermittent leave to an employee whose spouse, parent or child is called up for active military duty.

Employers may temporarily reassign an employee on approved intermittent leave to a different position to better accommodate his or her absence. However, the alternate position must offer equivalent pay and benefits, and the reassignment can only last for the time the employee is on intermittent leave. In other words, the employee retains full rights to be restored to his or her original job at the end of the FMLA leave.

The FMLA regulations do not specify any minimum increment of time for intermittent leave. Employers may limit the increment to the shortest period of payroll time their payroll systems use to track leaves of absence, as long as that time period is one hour or less.

A court recently held that an employer cannot require employees on intermittent leave to produce a doctor’s note for each absence. Under the regulations, the employer may request re-certifications no more frequently than every thirty days unless there is a significant change in circumstances or if there is reasonable doubt about the continuous validity of a certification.

With employees’ or family members’ permission, employers may contact the treating health care provider for clarification or authentication of a medical certification. Employers cannot use direct supervisors to contact an employee’s health care provider. Instead, employers must use a human resource professional, leave administrator, or manager.

In our next post, we will present tips for administering intermittent FMLA leave. Stay tuned!

Photo Courtesy of Kate Ter Haar on Flickr Creative Commons