(a) Minimum increment.
(1) When an employee takes FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule basis, the employer must account for the leave using an increment no greater than the shortest period of time that the employer uses to account for use of other forms of leave provided that it is not greater than one hour and provided further that an employee's FMLA leave entitlement may not be reduced by more than the amount of leave actually taken. An employer may not require an employee to take more leave than is necessary to address the circumstances that precipitated the need for the leave, provided that the leave is counted using the shortest increment of leave used to account for any other type of leave. See also § 825.205(a)(2) for the physical impossibility exception, §§ 825.600 and 825.601 for special rules applicable to employees of schools, and § 825.802 for special rules applicable to airline flight crew employees. If an employer uses different increments to account for different types of leave, the employer must account for FMLA leave in the smallest increment used to account for any other type of leave. For example, if an employer accounts for the use of annual leave in increments of one hour and the use of sick leave in increments of one-half hour, then FMLA leave use must be accounted for using increments no larger than one-half hour. If an employer accounts for use of leave in varying increments at different times of the day or shift, the employer may also account for FMLA leave in varying increments, provided that the increment used for FMLA leave is no greater than the smallest increment used for any other type of leave during the period in which the FMLA leave is taken. If an employer accounts for other forms of leave use in increments greater than one hour, the employer must account for FMLA leave use in increments no greater than one hour. An employer may account for FMLA leave in shorter increments than used for other forms of leave. For example, an employer that accounts for other forms of leave in one hour increments may account for FMLA leave in a shorter increment when the employee arrives at work several minutes late, and the employer wants the employee to begin work immediately. Such accounting for FMLA leave will not alter the increment considered to be the shortest period used to account for other forms of leave or the use of FMLA leave in other circumstances. In all cases, employees may not be charged FMLA leave for periods during which they are working.
(2) Where it is physically impossible for an employee using intermittent leave or working a reduced leave schedule to commence or end work mid-way through a shift, such as where a flight attendant or a railroad conductor is scheduled to work aboard an airplane or train, or a laboratory employee is unable to enter or leave a sealed “clean room” during a certain period of time and no equivalent position is available, the entire period that the employee is forced to be absent is designated as FMLA leave and counts against the employee's FMLA entitlement. The period of the physical impossibility is limited to the period during which the employer is unable to permit the employee to work prior to a period of FMLA leave or return the employee to the same or equivalent position due to the physical impossibility after a period of FMLA leave. See § 825.214.
(b) Calculation of leave.
(1) When an employee takes leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule, only the amount of leave actually taken may be counted toward the employee's leave entitlement. The actual workweek is the basis of leave entitlement. Therefore, if an employee who would otherwise work 40 hours a week takes off eight hours, the employee would use one-fifth (1/5) of a week of FMLA leave. Similarly, if a full-time employee who would otherwise work eight hour days works four-hour days under a reduced leave schedule, the employee would use one-half (1/2) week of FMLA leave. Where an employee works a part-time schedule or variable hours, the amount of FMLA leave that an employee uses is determined on a pro rata or proportional basis. If an employee who would otherwise work 30 hours per week, but works only 20 hours a week under a reduced leave schedule, the employee's 10 hours of leave would constitute one-third (1/3) of a week of FMLA leave for each week the employee works the reduced leave schedule. An employer may convert these fractions to their hourly equivalent so long as the conversion equitably reflects the employee's total normally scheduled hours. An employee does not accrue FMLA-protected leave at any particular hourly rate. An eligible employee is entitled to up to a total of 12 workweeks of leave, or 26 workweeks in the case of military caregiver leave, and the total number of hours contained in those workweeks is necessarily dependent on the specific hours the employee would have worked but for the use of leave. See also §§ 825.601 and 825.602, special rules for schools and § 825.802, special rules for airline flight crew employees.
(2) If an employer has made a permanent or long-term change in the employee's schedule (for reasons other than FMLA, and prior to the notice of need for FMLA leave), the hours worked under the new schedule are to be used for making this calculation.
(3) If an employee's schedule varies from week to week to such an extent that an employer is unable to determine with any certainty how many hours the employee would otherwise have worked (but for the taking of FMLA leave), a weekly average of the hours scheduled over the 12 months prior to the beginning of the leave period (including any hours for which the employee took leave of any type) would be used for calculating the employee's leave entitlement.
(c) Overtime. If an employee would normally be required to work overtime, but is unable to do so because of a FMLA-qualifying reason that limits the employee's ability to work overtime, the hours which the employee would have been required to work may be counted against the employee's FMLA entitlement. In such a case, the employee is using intermittent or reduced schedule leave. For example, if an employee would normally be required to work for 48 hours in a particular week, but due to a serious health condition the employee is unable to work more than 40 hours that week, the employee would utilize eight hours of FMLA-protected leave out of the 48-hour workweek, or one-sixth (1/6) of a week of FMLA leave. Voluntary overtime hours that an employee does not work due to an FMLA-qualifying reason may not be counted against the employee's FMLA leave entitlement.