Integrated Medical Leave and Accommodation Management System™

Can an employee use less than their 12-weeks of FMLA leave?

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Lindsey has an employee, Eric, who wants to split up his 12-week FMLA leave. Is Lindsey allowed to let the employee not take all 12 weeks of leave at once?


FMLA provides for 1) leave in a block of time, up to 12-weeks per year, 2) reduced work schedule leave, up to the 12 full work weeks, equal to 480 hours a year if the employee normally works 40 hours a week, and 3) ongoing, as needed, intermittent leave, to be taken as needed, such as for an anxiety disorder, when impacted. The FMLA medical certificate should provide a space for the medical provider to clarify how the leave needs to be taken. 

The medical certificate is your guide! Unless you are questioning the validity of the medical certificate, whatever the health care provider indicates on the medical certificate is the format for the leave.

In this case, if Eric has provided a valid medical certificate confirming his Serious Health Condition requires him to take 5 weeks of leave now and 5 weeks of leave 2 months from now then by default he would not be taking the leave all at once. Additionally, if Eric needs to take 5 weeks of leave now as a result of his Serious Medical Condition, and then needs additional leave later for the same or another Serious Medical Condition, then he would have an additional 7 weeks of leave to take before the end of his current 12-week annual period. If he uses the next 7 weeks before the end of the year, whether he takes it all at once or over several different leave blocks, Eric will have zero left and need to conditionally transition to ADA pending QID status confirmation if he continues to need leave and the current FMLA annual 12-week leave bank is exhausted. And as an FYI, FMLA is a use it or lose it policy. The leave does not carry over year to year. 


When someone has a serious health condition under the FMLA, he or she also will have an ADA disability if the person’s impairment substantially limits a major life activity, which ranges widely from walking, lifting, and talking to thinking, eating, and breathing, for example.

FMLA disputes are among the top five issues that land companies in the courtroom. It’s been a big part of compliance requirements in HR departments for almost 30 years now, and it has only grown in importance. Are you prepared?

Have you ever been unclear of what procedures to take when an employee requests time off?  The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a very complicated piece of legislation. It shouldn’t be a surprise that you find yourself questioning your choices!

Join us for our LMS Advanced Workshop this October to learn more about FMLA and how to implement it. This advanced workshop will help you cross your FMLA T’s and dot your I’s safely and legally. This workshop will provide all you need to gain the confidence to create, implement, and manage an Integrated Medical Leave and Accommodation Management System™ that incorporates your policies, procedures, union contracts, culture, and risk tolerance in a concise, straightforward way, including the critical FMLA/CFRA to ADA/FEHA transition.

Can you afford to make a mistake? Sign up for our workshop to help you sleep at night and get rid of your stress and earn 12 CEUs. You will learn from one of the nation’s best HR experts, Beth De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP,  who has over 28+ years of complex medical leave experience and related expert testimony as an HR expert witness under her belt.