Is baby bonding a part of FMLA Leave that can be used immediately or taken intermittantly?
Yes and no. FMLA permits an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is to care for a newborn child (or a newly adopted child, or a new foster child under the age of 18.) We often refer to this leave as baby bonding, although the FMLA regulations refer to it as time off to care for a newborn. Both new mothers and fathers are entitled to this leave, as well as legal guardians and others who have recently taken custody of a child under 18.
Yes, the employee is entitled to time off to care for the newborn. The employee can take this leave beginning at any time during the childs first year of life. However, unlike other types of FMLA, as an employer you can require that leave for care of a newborn be continuous, rather than intermittent. There is no FMLA regulation that forbids intermittent leave for this reason. But if it is easier for you as an employer, you can require that the leave be intermittent.
You cannot deny continuous FMLA to care for a newborn to any eligible employee. You can try to negotiate a better date, however, the employee has the legal right to take FMLA whenever he or she chooses within the childs first year of life. A new mother could take 6 weeks of continuous FMLA for childbirth disability, work for 6 weeks and then take another 6 weeks of continuous FMLA to care for the newborn. Or, she could wait until the child was 6 months old or 9 months old, before taking the final 6 weeks of FMLA. The choice of timing is up to the employee.
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