FMLA leave for part-time employees


Jason was enjoying his first week at his first real HR job after college when Arianna stepped into his office to ask about time off here and there for a personal situation. Jason asked for some particulars, which led him to believe that the reason for the intermittent leave might fall under the FMLA. He also remembered that Arianna worked only 30 hours per week. He told Arianna that he would look into what leave she had available and get back to her. Then he started digging, as he was not sure how much FMLA leave part-time employees received.

The FMLA entitles eligible employees to up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month leave year period. Whether an employee is full time or part time does not matter for purposes of eligibility. What does matter is whether the employee:

  • Has worked for your company for at least 12 months, 
  • Has worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before leave begins, and 
  • Works at a location with at least 50 company employees within 75 miles. 

With a bit of math, an employee could work 25 hours per week, get two weeks of paid time off, and still work 1,250 hours in 12 months. Therefore, a part-time employee could meet the FMLA eligibility criteria.

From there, we turn to how much FMLA leave a part-time employee might be entitled to. The workweek is the basis for an employee’s leave entitlement. This entitlement is not phrased in terms of a particular number of days or hours of leave, but rather as 12 workweeks of leave. Thus, if a holiday occurs in a week when an employee is on leave for the full week, the employee is still charged with a week of leave.  So, if an employee is taking FMLA leave in full weeks, you simply count the weeks.

When dealing with intermittent or reduced schedule leave, you would not count whole weeks off, but rather a fraction of the workweek or the number of hours of leave. If an employee normally works a 30-hour workweek (like Arianna), the employee’s statutory entitlement is not 480 hours, but rather 360 hours.  The focus is on the workweek and the employee’s normal workweek (hour/days per week) prior to the start of FMLA leave.

Arianna worked 30 hours per week, and wanted to take FMLA leave on an intermittent basis. Therefore, Jason might rely on the 360 hours of FMLA leave she has. Assuming her workweek is Monday – Friday, and she works six hours per day, if she began her leave by taking one day off in the first workweek, she would use only six hours of FMLA leave, and have 354 hours left. Jason would not include weekends in this calculation, as Arianna does not normally work weekends.

So, before you automatically assume that all employees are entitled to 480 hours of intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA leave, think again, and look at their actual workweeks.


The J. J. Keller LEAVE MANAGER service is your business resource for tracking employee leave and ensuring compliance with the latest Federal and State FMLA and leave requirements.