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Intermittent FMLA in Massachusetts

Posted by Tamara

Not all employers like the fact, but the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993) allows workers to use their unpaid, job-protected leave intermittently, as little as an hour or two at a time.

In Massachusetts as well as elsewhere around the U.S., unscheduled intermittent leave topped the list of concerns among employers, says a U.S. Labor Department report issued in 2007.

While many report that intermittent leave was not the intention of the original act, such leave is legal, provided employees follow their companies’ call-in policies. Failing to report an absence under FMLA can result in firing, under regulations developed in February of 2008.

Under FMLA rules, employees are allowed a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave annually, whether in a block or an hour at a time. Employees must be taking the leave to deal with a serious health condition illness or to cope with a pregnancy, among other things. They must also have worked for their current employer for no less than 1,250 hours during the past 12 months in order to qualify for the leave.

As an example, full-time employee Keisha suffers from pregnancy-related vomiting and nausea, also known as morning sickness. The condition is severe enough for her to require time off. That could be partial days. Her company may require a statement from her doctor certifying to her medical condition. Once she has that, however, she may take whatever time off she needs until she reaches 480 hours, or the equivalent of 12 weeks.

Keisha must be careful, however, because the time she takes before childbirth will be deducted from her overall FMLA leave, and she may wish to save a considerable part of her FMLA leave for the post-birth period. If Keisha uses all of her FMLA leave before the baby is born, she will not be entitled to any leave, paid or unpaid, after the birth.

A number of states have family leave laws that confer additional benefits to employees.



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