How Much FMLA Leave Should Part-Time Employees Receive?

To take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee must:

  • Work for an employer that has least 50 employees for 20 or more workweeks in the present or previous year.
  • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, whether consecutively or nonconsecutively.
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave.
  • Work at a site where the employer has a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

If these conditions are met, the employee is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave, which must be used for an eligible reason — such as to care for their own serious health condition or that of a qualifying family member.

Determining FMLA leave eligibility for part-time employees

To qualify for FMLA leave, a part-time employee must work at least approximately 24 hours per week (1,250 hours/52 weeks = 24 hours) and meet the remaining previously stated requirements.

The 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave can be taken together (in a single block of leave) or on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.

FMLA leave hours when taken in a single block of leave

If a part-time employee takes their FMLA leave in a single block, they must get the full 12 weeks of unpaid leave, no matter how many hours they typically work per week.

For FMLA calculation purposes, a week is determined by the number of hours the employee normally works in a week.

For example, a part-time employee who typically works 28 hours per week would receive 336 hours (28 x 12) of FMLA leave — which can be used all at once, as medically necessary.

In contrast, an employee who works 40 hours per week would receive 480 hours (40 x 12) of FMLA leave.

FMLA leave hours when taken on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule

In this case, whatever amount of FMLA leave the employee actually takes is counted toward the amount of leave they are entitled to for 12 weeks.

Section 825.205 of the FMLA regulation gives the following example:

An employee normally works 30 hours per week. However, they work only 20 hours per week while on a reduced leave schedule (e.g., because of a surgery) and use 10 hours of FMLA leave per week.

This employee would be entitled to a total of 360 hours of FMLA leave (30 x 12) for the 12-month period. The employer can subtract 10 hours of leave from the total hours allotment of 360 for each week that the employee takes FMLA leave while on the reduced schedule.

FMLA leave hours for part-time employees whose work hours fluctuate from week to week

To calculate FMLA leave hours for these employees, you’ll need to determine their average weekly hours over the 12 months preceding the leave start date.