One third, 33%, of employers report an increase in intermittent leave usage and 45% say they have difficulty managing or tracking it, according to a recent Mercer study.

Intermittent leave, a type of Family and Medical Leave Act job protection, is leave taken in various blocks of time for a single qualifying family or medical issue. With its usage on the rise, this type of leave potentially may become a growing burden for your clients.

While there are many ways you can help your clients ensure smooth management of these types of absences, here are two aspects your clients may not have considered:

Has your client reviewed the company call-in policy?

Unfortunately, many employers don’t have a defined call-in policy in place. By enforcing this type of policy, the employer can obtain sufficient facts to determine if a leave qualifies as an FMLA leave.

Example questions the employer can (and should) ask include when the leave is to begin and when the employee anticipates returning to work. If the leave is for a medical condition, questions should include whether there are duties the employee is unable to perform and whether a consultation with a physician has occurred or is planned.

Even if your client is properly tracking when an employee is taking leave, how are they doing this?

With some exceptions, leave must be tracked in increments that aren’t greater than the shortest time increments used for other forms of leave. In addition, the increment can’t be greater than one hour. And, of course, employees’ FMLA leave entitlement can’t be reduced by more than they actually took.

Properly managing intermittent leave is so important because accurate tracking will help ensure employers are providing only the amount of leave to which their employees are entitled. Accurate tracking also can help identify any patterns or trends that may indicate misuse.

Everybody wins when your clients can manage leaves sensibly and lawfully — you’re a trustworthy resource and your clients are more confident about their ability to deal with these challenges. But these guidelines are just the tip of the iceberg. In my next blog, I’ll share tips and best practices regarding certifications and recertifications for intermittent leaves.

Dirks is a senior compliance analyst for absence management with Standard Insurance Company and a Family and Medical Leave Act thought leader. His latest white paper, Best Practices for Administering Intermittent Leaves in the Workplace, is available at

The Standard is a marketing name for StanCorp Financial Group, Inc. and subsidiaries. Insurance products are offered by Standard Insurance Company of 1100 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, Ore. in all states except New York, where insurance products are offered by The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York of 360 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 210, White Plains, N.Y. Product features and availability vary by state and company, and are solely the responsibility of each subsidiary. Each company is solely responsible for its own financial condition. Standard Insurance Company is licensed to solicit insurance business in all states except New York. The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York is licensed to solicit insurance business in only the state of New York.

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