Do I have To Take FMLA Leave All At Once?

If you are experiencing a significant medical or family event in your life, it can be very disruptive to your day-to-day life. As a result, you may need to take time away from other daily activities in your life, including your job.

If you need to take time off your job because you are suffering from a serious health condition, are giving birth or adopting a child, or need to care for a family member, it is possible to do so under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although you may have heard that you need to take your 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the act as a single uninterrupted block of time, this does not have to be the case.

When is intermittent leave available?

Under the FMLA, you are entitled to take intermittent leave (or be granted leave on a reduced schedule) if a "serious health condition" makes you unable to do your job. Additionally, intermittent leave is available if you need to care for a parent, spouse, son or daughter that has a serious health condition, or care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

What do you have to do before taking leave?

If you would like to take intermittent leave after the birth of your child or an adoption, you must get your employer's permission before doing so. If, on the other hand, you would like to take your 12 weeks intermittently for a medical condition or to care for an eligible person, you must make reasonable efforts to notify your employer beforehand. This basically means that you must give notice as far in advance as practicable (in most cases, 30 days is sufficient unless your need for leave is unexpected). Additionally, you are required to minimize the negative impact on your employer by scheduling your leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt your employer's business operations.

Questions? Speak with an attorney

Although the FMLA protects you against being fired for taking leave, there are several exceptions to this rule. If you believe that you are wrongfully being denied leave or were terminated because you exercised your rights under the FMLA, contact an experienced employment law attorney. An attorney can listen to your situation and work on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected.