Yay or Nay? The Potential Certification Consequences under the FMLA
For those of you paying attention, that title rhymed. In any event, as we touched on in a previous post, certification is an important concept to understand in the FMLA process. It can be the difference between an absence being covered or not covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act.
If an employee requests FMLA leave, an employer is permitted to request certification from the employee. Essentially, certification proves the time-off was was for an FMLA-eligible purpose (his or her own serious health condition or that of a covered family member).
When the employer requests certification, they must inform the employee of the following:
- The potential effect(s) of failing to provide an adequate certification
- The certification deadline of 15 days
- The potential that the employer could deny the employee’s FMLA request if they fail to provide the requested certification
If the employee provides a certification within 15 days, but the certification is incomplete or insufficient, the employer must provide a written explanation of why it is “insufficient.” The employee then has 7 calendar days to fix the inefficient certification. Failure to do so could also result in the employer denying the employee’s FMLA request.
What is Insufficient Certification?
Certification that is vague, ambiguous, or non-responsive is generally insuffucuent. If you take a look at the certification and can’t figure out what it’s for, it is insufficient.
Finally, if an employer questions the authenticity of a certification or needs “clarification” regarding the certification, they can contact the employee’s health care provider directly. However, the employer cannot request additional medical information from the heath care provider.
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