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South Carolina Intermittent Family Leave

Posted by Tamara

Liz, a South Carolina employee, adopted an infant in February and wants to take family leave to care for the child. Under FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, she is entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a newborn, with a newly adopted baby, or a foster child newly entering the home.

Instead of using all 12 weeks at once, however, Liz asks to use the first 6 weeks continuously, then use the remaining weeks as intermittent family leave to return to work on a part-time basis. Her employer refuses, insisting she either remain on continuous leave or return to her normal work schedule.

Liz argues that she is entitled to intermittent family leave, and cites the case of a colleague who was granted that type of leave after a serious automobile accident. She insists her employer is in violation of FMLA and South Carolina state law if he refuses. The employer argues that FMLA doesn’t entitle her to intermittent leave.

Liz’s employer is correct.

True, her colleague was granted intermittent leave under FMLA, but the law only allows that type of leave when it is medically necessary for a serious health condition. So, her employer was not in violation of FMLA, and since South Carolina has no family leave laws, no state laws were violated, either.

Legally, there are no mandates for a new parent to be granted intermittent family leave to bond with a child. The employer can require that FMLA to care for a child be taken on a continuous basis.  An employer can grant intermittent leave, however, if he or she wishes. Usually, such an arrangement occurs when both employee and employer can agree on a mutually satisfying schedule. Granting this type of leave is solely up to the individual employer.

FMLA leave allows employees up to 12 weeks per healthy child, but an employee can take only 12 weeks in a single 12 month period. If Liz decided to adopt another infant six months later, she couldn’t take FMLA leave again, because she’d already reached her limit for the period.


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