While employees often take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in continuous blocks of time, some employees may be eligible for intermittent or reduced schedule leave under the FMLA.  “Intermittent leave” is FMLA leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.  A “reduced leave schedule” is a leave schedule that reduces an employee’s usual number of working hours per workweek or workday.  In order to qualify for these types of leave, an eligible employee must show a medical need for FMLA leave that can be best accommodated through an either an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.  See 29 C.F.R. § 825.202.

The DOL’s medical certification form for FMLA leave poses questions to an employee’s health care provider that address whether intermittent or reduced schedule leave is medically necessary.  Potential reasons for intermittent or reduced schedule leave may include planned or unplanned medical treatment or appointments, periodic flare-ups of a serious health condition, morning sickness (for pregnant employees), or a medical recovery that prevents an employee from working on a full-time schedule for a period of time.

Takeaway:  When an employee asks for FMLA leave or provides an FMLA medical certification form, employers should make sure they understand whether the employee is requesting a continuous block of leave or is requesting intermittent or reduced schedule leave.