Intermittent leave is time off from work taken in separate blocks, rather than one big chunk. It is available in the United States under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and many nations have similar laws in place to allow people to take protected time off. Protected time off allows people to miss work for legitimate family and medical emergencies without worrying about losing their jobs or being demoted. The law surrounding leave is very complicated and employees who know they need leave may want to consult an attorney to get specific information.
There are a number of advantages to intermittent leave. Some people have disabilities or chronic conditions that flare up occasionally. Being allowed to take one big chunk of time off is not very helpful, as once they return to work, their conditions will return. Being allowed to take smaller breaks will allow them to accommodate their conditions while still working. Intermittent leave can also be used for caregiving, with family members trading off to provide complete care without missing big stretches of time at work or burning out by providing continuous caregiving.
To qualify for intermittent leave, people must be able to demonstrate a genuine illness or emergency. They can also qualify for leave to settle in with a new child. Typically leave needs to be scheduled in advance, with reasonable notice to allow the employer to make arrangements. People who need intermittent leave may be moved to equivalent positions with more scheduling flexibility, but they are entitled to return to their regular jobs after they return to work.
Employers often ask for documentation. For people with medical conditions, a note from a doctor explaining the situation and providing information about the kind of leave needed, like Wednesdays off for 12 weeks to attend physical therapy, is very helpful. People making caregiver arrangements can work with their family members to develop a schedule and present this schedule to employers so their leaves can be planned as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
Intermittent leave cannot be used for sick days or days when employees simply don't feel like coming in to work. Employees may be able to arrange for use of vacation days for these events. There are regulations governing responsibilities on both sides of the leave equation and it is important for employers to provide employees with clear information about their leave policies, who to contact about scheduling leave, and how to handle emergencies.