The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allow employees to take job-protected leave for an extended time period after certain events such as child birth or adoption, to care for a family member who is sick or to care for your own physical well-being, among others. Often taken as a lump of time, as with maternity leave, FMLA leave can also be taken intermittently.
That means that an employee may take time off from work in blocks of time (rather than days, weeks or months) or reduce their normal work schedule while still receiving the job protection guaranteed by the FMLA. An example might be a worker who is diagnosed with depresssion who may not need a month off of work, but may need two to three hour time blocks a few days a week to seek professional help.
Intermittent FMLA leave is subject to employer approval if it is taken for birth and caring for a newborn or for placing the newborn in the foster system or up for adoption. If intermittent FMLA leave is requested to care for a family member who is seriously ill or because of an illness that the employee has him or herself, an employer must be properly notified, but cannot legally deny the leave if the employee is otherwise eligible for job-protected FMLA leave.
Employees who take intermittent leave should do their best not to disrupt the normal workday with their requested time off. While the employer must allow you to take intermittent FMLA leave, problems may arise if the leave interferes with the general operations of your employer. On the same note, simply because intermittent FMLA leave causes an inconvenience for your employer does not mean that the leave can be denied or that your job is no longer protected while on qualified leave.