HR Tip: Managing FMLA intermittent leave

Intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be extremely disruptive to work schedules and adversely affect staff. To minimize the disruption, employers should:

  1. Consult with employees and help them to schedule leave so that it does not unduly disrupt business operations (when possible).
  2. Require at least 30 days notice for intermittent leave (when foreseeable).
  3. Require a medical certification of the need for the leave.
  4. Request estimate from health provider of how often employee needs time off.
  5. Have a rigid process to track all absences and intermittent leave to make sure they are accounted for against the employee’s FMLA allotment.
  6. Run other leave concurrently with FMLA (paid leave, sick time, etc.).
  7. Consider a temporary transfer. Employees needing intermittent/reduced schedule leave for foreseeable medical treatments must work with their employers to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt the employer’s operations, subject to the approval of the employee’s health care provider. In such cases, the employer may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodates recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job.
  8. If circumstances change, ask for a recertification. Most certifications for intermittent leave do not have a specific ending date and employers may have the employee re-certify no more often than every 30 days, as the long as the employee had an FMLA-protected absence during that 30-day period. However, recertification can be requested when circumstances change, such as an employee who is certified for 1-2 days per month and is calling in 4-5 days per month.
  9. If in doubt about the validity of the certification, ask for second and third opinions.

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