Employees who need FMLA leave don’t always need it all at once. FMLA leave taken in separate blocks of time for the same qualifying reason is called “intermittent leave.” See 29 C.F.R. § 825.202(a). Intermittent leave law is complicated though. To learn about your rights and protect your job, it’s best to speak with an FMLA intermittent leave attorney.

Under the FMLA, employees may take leave intermittently when necessary for planned or unplanned qualifying reasons. Most typically, employees take intermittent leave due to their own serious health condition, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or for pregnancy. The need for leave might be predictable—for instance, a planned doctor’s appointment or scheduled treatments like chemotherapy or dialysis. Or it might be unpredictable—for instance, flare ups of a chronical medical condition. Leave can be taken for a few days or even for a few hours.

What do I tell my employer if I need intermittent FMLA?

Regardless of whether the need for intermittent leave is foreseeable or not, the FMLA requires employees to provide proper notice of their need for leave. Employees often get themselves in trouble by not giving proper notice of their need for intermittent leave. When and how the employee gives notice depends on the circumstances.

When an employee needs intermittent leave for a foreseeable reason, the FMLA generally requires 30 days’ advance notice to the employer. If that isn’t possible, employees must give notice as soon as “practicable.” 29 C.F.R. § 825.302. The notice should be sufficient to let the employer know that the employee needs leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason and how long the employee expects to be out. Whenever possible, the FMLA requires the employee to “make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly the employer’s operations.” 29 C.F.R. § 825.203.

When the need for intermittent leave is unforeseeable, the employee must give notice as soon as practicable. 29 C.F.R. § 303(a). Absent unusual circumstance, the employee must comply with the employer’s normal call-off procedures. 29 C.F.R. § 303(c). That often that means calling a designated phone number or notifying a specific person, assuming the employee is physically able. If the employee fails to give the required notice and no unusual circumstances apply, the employer can deny the request for protected leave.

The FMLA provides critical job protection at a time when employees need it the most. At the same time, employees must be careful to follow the FMLA’s technical requires so they don’t lose that protection. To make sure you don’t lose your rights, speak with an FMLA intermittent leave lawyer at Bolek Besser Glesius for a free consultation.