There's a good reason the FMLA has been saddled with the "Friday-Monday Leave Act" nickname.
In the 26 years since the law was enacted, employees have learned how to take advantage of the leave's protected status, especially if the person has been given the green light to take intermittent leave for a chronic condition (or care of a sick relative).
But that doesn't mean you have to accept abusive "pattern absences" that seem to occur on Fridays, Mondays or before holidays. You may be able to refuse such intermittent leave requests without violating the FMLA. The key: knowing how to legally use your rights to request certifications (and recertifications), when to require advance notification of leaves and when you can be in touch with the employee's doctor (see box below).
Recent case: Evan, an air traffic controller, asked for sporadic time off to bond with his new child. Typically, Evan requested Friday afternoons off and all day Saturday.
Eventually, Evan's boss began refusing those requests because it was hard to get other staff to cover.
That's when Evan put in a written request for FMLA leave to take those days off each week. The employer denied the request, saying Evan got plenty of days off but...