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By now, most employees and employers are familiar with the basic principles of the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.

The FMLA was enacted as a way to protect employees who are forced to take time off from their jobs to care for a family member facing a medical emergency or because of their own medical emergency.

Prior to the FMLA, taking time off from work for a medical or family emergency often meant the loss of a job. Although most people are aware that the FMLA exists, the benefits available and the options for exercising those benefits may remain unclear.

For example, does FMLA leave have to be taken all at once? The answer is “no”, it does not.

You may be able to use reduced schedule or intermittent leave if you qualify for FMLA leave.

The FMLA requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave as well as continued medical insurance benefits during any 12 month period for covered reasons.


Covered reasons include things such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a child, parent or spouse who has a serious medical condition or illness, and caring for yourself if you have a serious medical condition or illness.

FMLA leave may be taken all at once, meaning you take 12 weeks of consecutive leave; however, you can also break up your 12 weeks of leave into “reduced schedule” or “intermittent” leave.

For example, if you regularly work 40 hours per week you might request that your schedule be reduced to 20 hours per week to help care for a sick parent.

Intermittent leave might be used if you foresee the need to help care for someone but the amount of time you will need to provide that care will vary. You might need to take a week now and then not take another week for an entire month.

While the basic guidelines for FMLA leave are the same when using reduced schedule or intermittent leave there are some important differences.

For example, intermittent leave cannot be used for the birth or adoption of a child unless the child has a serious medical condition at birth.

You are also required to provide notice of your intention to take the leave when possible and must be reasonable when attempting to negotiate a schedule with your employer for your leave.

If your employer is a covered employer yet refuses to honor your right to FMLA leave you may be able to enforce your rights through legal action. If you have additional questions about your rights under the FMLA, consult with an experienced Florida employment law attorney right away.