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FMLA Medical Certification

As an employee, the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides eligible employees, in any (twelve) 12-month period, with up to (twelve) 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, or due to the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s spouse, child, or parent. As the employee, you must invoke the FMLA in requesting leave. Title I employees aren’t required by the regulations to submit medical documentation when notifying the agency of FMLA leave. However, agencies may require that a leave request be supported by a medical certification issued by the health care provider, which the employee must provide in a timely manner.

In most cases, the employer should request that an employee furnish certification at the time the employee gives notice of the need for leave or within five business days thereafter, or, in the case of unforeseen leave, within five business days after the leave commences. When the agency requests the certification, it generally must give the employee at least 15 calendar days to respond. It must also advise the employee of the consequences of the failure to provide the adequate certification. The employee must then provide the certification within the time frame requested by the agency, although an untimely certification will suffice when it is impracticable under the circumstances to return it by the deadline, “despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts.” It is the employee’s obligation to either provide a complete and sufficient certification or provide any necessary authorization for the health care provider to release a complete and sufficient certification directly to the agency. Certification provided under the statute is considered sufficient if it states: (1) the date on which the serious health condition commenced; (2) the probable duration of the condition; and (3) the appropriate medical facts within the knowledge of the health care provider regarding the condition.

In cases where the medical certification is incomplete, the agency can deny FMLA leave. If an employee submits insufficient certification from a medical provider, then only specific parties – a health care provider, HR professional, leave administrator, or management official other than the employee’s supervisor – can contact the employee’s health care provider for purposes of clarification and authentication. The employee’s direct supervisor may not make the contact. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits employers from requesting or requiring “genetic information with respect to an employee or a family member of the employee.” However, Section 202(b)(3) of the GINA provides an exception when the information relates to an FMLA certification under Title 29.

Any questions should be directed to your FacRep, RVP, or NATCA LR Department.

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