In the 10 years since its enactment, most employers and employees have become generally familiar with the requirement of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that covered employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and health benefit continuation in any 12-month period for specified purposes. In very general terms, a covered employer is one with at least 50 employees. An eligible employee is one who has been employed for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours in the preceding 12 months, and is employed at an employer worksite where there are at least 75 employees within a 75-mile radius. Qualifying reasons for the leave include the birth or adoption of the employee’s child; care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition; the employee’s own serious health condition; certain military exigencies; and care for injured service members. While it can be further complicated by the interplay between the FMLA and other federal and state statues (as, for example, its interplay with the Americans with Disabilities Act previously discussed in this space), administering an employee’s request for full-time leave is a relatively straightforward proposition.
Much more difficult to understand and administer can be an employee’s entitlement to use some or all of the FMLA leave entitlement to work a reduced schedule or to maintain a normal schedule with intermittent absences. There are both similarities and important differences between reduced schedule and intermittent leaves and between those types of leaves and full-time FMLA leave.