FMLA FAQ: Medical Certification

An employee requested FMLA leave, which she was provisionally granted. She took the time off but, despite requests by HR, has failed to submit a completed medical certification form. It has been more than 15 days since the form was first requested.

Can we retroactively withdrawal the provisional approval? Do we need to give the employee some kind of warning about the expiration of the 15 days?

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The current regulations provide that, when the need for leave is foreseeable and at least 30 days notice has been provided, the employee should provide the medical certification before the leave begins. But this doesn’t sound like the case, here. If this is not possible, the employee must provide the certification to the employer.

The employer can set a deadline so long as it is not less than 15 days. If the employee here was given at least 15 days to provide the certification and was notified of the need to do so but has failed to comply, the leave need not be designated as FMLA-eligible. Many employers, though, will provide notice in writing to the employee of the missed deadline and offer another 7 or 14 calendar days in which to comply. This is a safeguard but is not required.

If the employee returns the certification after the deadline but has made good-faith efforts to do so within the mandated timeframe and was prevented only by circumstances beyond her control, the employer is best advised to accept the certification as timely.

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