How Does Intermittent FMLA Leave Work in Texas?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires some employers to grant eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical and caregiving purposes. Many people take FMLA leave all at once to recover from a medical condition or spend time with a new baby.

Sometimes, FMLA will allow a person to take leave “intermittently” throughout the year, if circumstances require it. Not everyone will qualify for intermittent and reduced schedule leave through FMLA, so it is important to understand the rules regarding this kind of leave.


FMLA Basics

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees working for covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of leave without fear of being fired or demoted. The employee is entitled to keep his health insurance while he is on leave (although he may need to pay out of pocket for the premiums). The following are approved reasons for taking leave through the FMLA:

An employer is required to abide by FMLA regulations if they have at least 50 employees that work at least 20 weeks of the year. To be eligible to take FMLA leave, an employee must have worked with her current employer for at least twelve months. She must have worked at least 1,250 hours, or about 25 hours a week, in the last year. The employee’s workplace must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.


What Is Intermittent and Reduced Schedule Leave?

Intermittent and reduced leave allows an employee to take off work for small increments of time, for the equivalent of up to 12 work weeks (480 hours for a full-time employee). Someone may use intermittent leave to work shortened days, or to take off one day a week. You can take as little as one hour of FMLA leave at a time.

If you qualify for intermittent and reduced schedule leave, you will be able to take off work as needed, and your employer will not be able to deny your leave. You will also remain eligible for health insurance benefits during this time. However, restrictions and special rules apply for intermittent leave.

You can take intermittent leave for personal medical purposes or to care for a spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition. For example, if someone requires physical therapy twice a week, she can take FMLA leave to go to her appointments. You may be asked to show proof that intermittent leave is medically necessary for you or the person you are caring for.


Intermittent Maternity Leave

There are many reasons an expecting mother may need to use intermittent leave through FMLA. Someone with a high-risk pregnancy may have multiple doctor’s appointments every week. A pregnant woman may also have other restrictions, such as bed rest, that requires her to work a lighter schedule. Intermittent pregnancy leave that is necessary for medical reasons should be accommodated.

New mothers and fathers may be able to take intermittent parental leave, with the permission of their employers. This encourages secure attachment between parent and child, and eases the transition back to work for both the parents and the new baby.

However, because intermittent parental leave may not be medically necessary, it is important to get the approval of your employer. You should request intermittent leave at least 30 days before it is needed, or as soon as it is foreseeable.


Special Rules for Educators

Teachers and other instructors at public and private schools (K-12) are given different rules regarding intermittent leave. A teacher’s employer, typically the school board, is not required to grant intermittent leave in the same capacity as most employers.

If you need to take leave for medical reasons, they can require you to take your leave as a block or accept a different job within the school that better accommodates you. If your leave is scheduled to end near the end of the academic term, the school board can also require you to extend your leave to the end of the semester.


Legal Assistance for Employment Issues

If you have questions about FMLA regulations, contact the attorneys at Lindquist Woods Edwards, LLP. Serving the greater Dallas area, our experienced employment law attorneys are eager to assist you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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