HR Question of the Week – May 15, 2015

Question:

We have an employee who will be taking FMLA leave when she has a baby in a few months. She has asked to take eight weeks off completely and then work half-time for another eight weeks instead of taking 12 full weeks all at once. Are we required to grant this request under the FMLA?

Answer:

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees who have worked for your company for at least 12 months, at least 1250 hours in the last 12 months, and at a location at which there are at least 50 employees within 75 miles, are eligible to take up to 12 weeks in a year off for approved purposes. Care and bonding with a new baby is an approved reason for FMLA leave. So, unless she has already taken some FMLA leave this year, she will be eligible for 12 weeks of leave.

This employee is requesting what is called reduced hour or intermittent leave. The FMLA does permit employees to work a reduced schedule or take intermittent leave when it is medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member, or because of the employee’s serious health condition. For purposes of caring and bonding with a new baby, however, employees may only use reduced schedule or intermittent leave with the employer’s approval.

It will be up to your discretion whether you approve her request for the reduced hour schedule for the second part of her FMLA leave. When making this determination, you should ensure that you are following any policies and practices that your company may have in place and that you are treating this employee in a manner that is consistent with how other employees in similar situations have been treated in the past.

If you do approve this reduced hour schedule, only the amount of leave actually taken while on the reduced schedule leave may be charged as FMLA leave; if she works half-time for four weeks, for example, that would be charged as two weeks of FMLA leave. You may account for FMLA leave in the shortest period of time that your payroll system allows, provided it is one hour or less. Additionally, while FMLA leave is unpaid, you may require your employee to use some or all of her available paid vacation and personal leave concurrently with the FMLA leave.

Source: HR Support Center | Copyright © 2017 AdvaPay Systems, LLC