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The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) permits workers who meet certain conditions to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave for medical or family care reasons. This memorandum discusses the statutes, legislative history and regulations pertinent to intermittent and reduced schedule leave, as well as select case law.

To give workers not just the time but also the flexibility to balance the demands of work and family, the FMLA allows workers to take leave on an intermittent basis (e.g., a few hours per week to attend a standing medical appointment) or on a reduced work schedule (e.g., working a three-day week while recovering from cancer).

Generally, intermittent leave or reduced schedule leave is provided when medically necessary for an employee’s own serious health condition or for caretaking of certain family members with serious health conditions. In such circumstances, an employee need not obtain the prior approval of his or her employer to take such leave. By contrast, intermittent leave or a reduced schedule leave may be used for care related to the birth/adoption/foster care of a child only if the employer gives prior approval for such arrangements.