As spring turns into summer and the weather warms up, employers may notice an increase in employee absences. While spotty or unpredictable attendance can cause staffing issues and frustration for employers, certain absences, even irregular ones, may be protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The FMLA entitles eligible employees to twelve workweeks of unpaid leave during any twelve-month period, either consecutively or on an intermittent basis in certain circumstances, including when medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member or because of the employee’s own serious health condition.
While intermittent leave is designed to serve the needs of employees who need to be absent from time to time to address legitimate health problems, occasionally, employees’ use of intermittent leave can create serious headaches for employers and raise concerns about FMLA abuse. Below are two common scenarios of possible FMLA abuse and strategies for employers to address these issues.