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Understanding the different ways you can schedule your leave

Paid family and medical leave can be taken on a continuous, reduced, or intermittent schedule. Here's how.

Table of Contents

Types of leave schedules

When taking Paid Family and Medical Leave, you can choose three different ways to schedule your leave and also mix and match from these types to fit your needs.

Continuous leave

This is when you’re taking leave from work completely for days or weeks at a time. For example, if you have surgery, you may need several continuous weeks of paid leave to recover.

Reduced leave

This is when you are working a reduced work schedule that is still consistent week-to-week.

For example, if you normally work 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday, and your partner recently had a baby, you may want to work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 6 weeks to bond with your child. For reduced leave, you would work this same schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) every week for the length of your leave.

Intermittent leave

This is when you need to take time off here and there, sometimes in unpredictable increments. Intermittent leave may be taken for all types of family or medical leave.

Some examples of this may include:

  • You need a certain number of hours off each week for a medical or family need, such as doctor’s appointments or physical therapy sessions, for a set period of time

  • You or your family member have a chronic condition that can flare up without warning, requiring time off from work

If you are applying for intermittent leave, you need to have your leave schedule approved by your employer before applying. 

Then you will need to work with a health care provider to certify the need and scope of your leave, for yourself if it is for your own serious health condition, or for your family member, if it is leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Your health care provider should use this form to note:

  • The reason you are planning to take family or medical leave

  • An estimate of how long your or your family member’s family or medical leave should last

  • The frequency of which they expect you or your family member to need to take leave

The Department will confirm the terms and schedule you provide us with your employer as part of the approval process.

Once your application is approved and you go on leave, you will need to call the Contact Center at (833) 344-7365 each week to report the hours that you ended up using for intermittent leave. Your employer can call to confirm what hours your reported as well.

If you need intermittent leave more often than you anticipated when you filled out your application, you’ll need to call the Contact Center to update your application. However, you will need a new certification form from a health care provider documenting your need for additional leave and your employer will be notified.

If you’re on intermittent or reduced leave and you would like to switch to a continuous leave, you’ll need to begin a new paid leave application.

If your actual leave schedule differs from what you were approved for, the Department may ask for a refund of benefits.

Combining leave schedules

You can combine the different types of leave to fit your needs. You can use one application to apply for both continuous leave and reduced leave, if you’re taking both. Intermittent leave always requires its own application and can incur a second 7-day waiting period.

Some examples:

  • Sumi has a hip replaced, and needs to take off six weeks of continuous leave to recover from the surgery. After those six weeks, she works half as many hours as usual for four weeks (reduced leave), and then is back to her normal schedule. Sumi’s continuous and reduced leave can be combined in one application.

  • Jose is receiving radiation for brain cancer. He takes reduced leave, working five hours a day, instead of the seven hours a day he typically works, while he is undergoing radiation. After he completes his radiation, he finds he is still very tired, and sometimes needs to take a day off to rest here or there. He uses intermittent leave to cover these days. Because he’s using reduced and intermittent leave, he has to create two applications for leave, and each week where he uses his intermittent leave he has to call in and report the hours of leave he took. 

  • Mackela adopted a baby and took eight weeks of continuous leave to bond with her child. After those eight weeks, she took four weeks of reduced leave, working 3 days a week, to adjust back to work.



For questions about benefits and eligibility: (833) 344-7365

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Fraud Reporting Hotline: (857) 366-7201

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Intermittent Leave Hours Reporting Line: 857-972-9256

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

For questions about contributions and exemptions: (617) 466-3950

Department of Revenue - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Last updated: July 13, 2021