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Illinois Intermittent Family Leave

Posted by Tamara

Many Illinois employees have questions about taking family leave on an intermittent basis, but there is no law that an employer must permit this.

Many new mothers want to take a few weeks off work  and then return to work part-time under FMLA. However, the FMLA regulations do not require employers to agree to this arrangement.

Illinois has no family leave law at the state level, so the relevant statute is the FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The FMLA permits a male or female employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a newborn child, within the child’s first year of life. In addition, the same law permits an employee of either sex to take leave when a new child is adopted or a new foster child is brought into the home.

However, employees cannot take all of these types of leave. Suppose Grace adopts an infant. She cannot take 12 weeks of FMLA beginning in April to bond with her newly adopted child and another 12 weeks of FMLA beginning in August to care for the same baby. FMLA leave is limited to 12 weeks total for each healthy child, and 12 weeks total for all reasons in a single 12-month period.

When an employee takes FMLA for a serious health condition, the employee has the option of taking intermittent leave if medically necessary. However, there is no law that an employer must permit workers to take baby bonding leave intermittently. The employer can require that employees take leave to care for a newborn on a continuous basis.

In some cases, an employer may permit a new mother or father to use FMLA for baby bonding intermittently, on a schedule that is mutually agreeable. However, under the most recent FMLA regulations, an employer has the legal right to decline this arrangement. In those circumstances, the employer can require that the new parent remain on FMLA continuously, or return to work his or her usual schedule.



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