Excessive intermittent FMLA leave after the Super Bowl is NOT normal

In 2013, IBI looked for evidence that people misuse intermittent FMLA on the Monday after the Super Bowl. The original blog post is lost somewhere in cyberspace (not everything on the internet enjoys an eternal life), but back then we used 872,000 intermittent FMLA leave days from our study on the cross-over from FMLA to STD.

Since the issue of Super Bowl-inspired absences seems to emerge each year right around Groundhog's Day, we have reposted the findings. The data are aging, but probably are still applicable.

Super Bowl Monday is one workday out of a 260-day year (52 weeks x 5 days), or 0.38% of workdays. If the total share of intermittent FMLA leaves on Super Bowl Monday is greater than 0.38% (with some margin of error), we would suspect a problem.

As seen in the chart below, only in 2008 (Giants 17, Patriots 14) did we see the share of Super Bowl intermittent leave days appreciably exceed 0.38%. For the five years from 2007 to 2011, the share of leaves taken on Super Bowl Monday were pretty much what we would expect on any random weekday of the year. Even if we exclude 2007 (Colts 29, Bears 17), the average rate from 2008-2011 is about 0.40%. Slightly higher than expected, but neither alarming nor statistically significant.


Overall, it does not appear that employees are misusing their intermittent FMLA on the day after the Super Bowl—at least not at a rate higher than anticipated on any other given day.

This DOES NOT mean that no employees misuse certified FMLA leaves the day after the Super Bowl. For example, many people with a certified leave for a serious medical condition may not know that job protection does not extend to unrelated health issues (including celebratory mishaps).

It does mean that any employer experiencing the FMLA Super Bowl Monday phenomenon could have a pervasive problem with misuse in its workforce, and should take steps to understand and address the issue.