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Iowa Intermittent Family Leave

Posted by Tamara

When an employee has a baby, adopts a newborn or fosters a child, federal laws allow that employee to take leave to bond with that child. Usually, this leave is taken continuously, but some Iowa employees have asked if they can take this type of family leave on an intermittent basis.

The answer in most cases is no. Iowa has no family leave laws at the state level, so the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides the guidelines. Under FMLA, employers are required to provide eligible workers with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a variety of medical and personal reasons.

These scenarios include serious health conditions of the employee or the employee’s spouse, parent or child; pregnancy and bonding with a newborn, a newly adopted baby or a newly fostered child. At present, the only scenario that allows intermittent leave is when it’s medically necessary due to a serious health condition.

So, what options do a new mother or new father have for intermittent leave to bond with her or his child?

That depends completely on the individual employers. In some cases, an employer can grant an employee intermittent leave to bond with a child if they can find a schedule that is agreeable to both parties. Employers do not have to grant that leave. They are perfectly within their rights to require the new parent to take the leave on a continuous basis, or return to his or her regular work schedule.

Whether the leave is taken continuously or intermittently, an employee can take leave for only one of these scenarios per year. If Allison adopts an infant in February and takes 12 weeks of leave to bond with the baby, she cannot take another 12 weeks in September to care for the child. FMLA limits leave to 12 weeks per healthy child, and 12 weeks total for any reason in a single 12 month period.

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