What the Heck is FMLA and Intermittant Leave Work?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees (who themselves qualify and whose employers are eligible) to take unpaid leave due to necessary medical or family related reasons. During their leave, their job is protected and they are able to continue any health insurance they have through their employer.

For an employee to take this form of leave, first, their employer must qualify, to qualify they must meet certain criteria. A covered employer is going to be a private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, a public employer; or a public or private elementary or secondary school.


Leave Entitlement Under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)


Eligible employees, who work for a qualified company, may take up to 12 weeks of work leave in any 12-month period. FMLA allows the employer a bit of freedom when it comes to defining their 12-month period.  The employer to elect to define the 12-month period as a standard calendar year, as a fixed 12-month “leave year,” as a 12-month period starting from the date the employee’s first FMLA leave begins, or as a “rolling” 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses the leave.

For an employee to use the available leave, they must have a qualifying reason. Reasons to use this type of leave are the birth of a child, the adoption of a child or placement of a child for foster care. It may also be used so that an employee may care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition. If the employee themselves has a serious health condition that renders them unable to execute their normal job functions, they will also qualify for FMLA leave. Leave of this may also be used due to urgent matters involving a spouse child or parent that is being called to active duty.

It is important to be aware of your qualifications and what is available to you. It is never a bad idea to speak with your HR department ahead of time if you think you may need leave in the future. It is better to be prepared going into it.

Non-FMLA Leave


In addition to FMLA, an employer may offer, or an employee may be eligible for, other types of leave. Some of the more common forms of leave are:

  • Maternity Leave – depending on the company, this may be a paid form of leave. It is granted to a mother while recovering from childbirth.
  • Administrative Leave – this is also generally a paid form of leave. It is generally referring to leave granted to employees of non-business institutions such as schools, police, and hospitals.
  • Military Leave – this is leave from a job role given to members of reserve components of the United States Armed Services, like the National Guard, who are called to active duty, attend scheduled reserve service or temporary training duty.
  • Jury Duty – this is paid leave from work when an employee is chosen to participate as part of a jury.
  • Workers Compensation – this is a paid leave granted to people who were injured while executing their job duties.

Certain types are more commonly used or readily available than others depending on the state and the employer. Make sure before taking any type of advice from us you consult your lawyer for the most up-to-date information as it relates to you specifically. There are lots of leave laws that employers must abide to in order to keep compliant in their workplace.


Posted in

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions



Pin It on Pinterest