When an employee requests leave from work under the FMLA, or Family and Medical Leave Act, employers will uniformly request a medical certification before leave will be approved. The issue arises when, while you are out on leave, your employer sends additional requests for medical "recertification." Is an employee required to provide these additional certifications under the FMLA? The answer is yes. Here is why.
FMLA regulations permit subsequent medical certification
In certain situations, an employer can request subsequent medical certifications while you are out on FMLA leave. This is permitted under the FMLA regulations set out by the Department of Labor. And yet, the regulations do not a grant blanket authority to make requests. Instead, there are guidelines as to the timing of these subsequent medical certification requests.
Employers must abide by the "30 day rule"
Generally speaking, employers are only allowed to request medical recertification during FMLA leave every 30 days, when the employee's initial leave request was for an unknown duration. However, if the initial leave request indicated a specific time period, then the 30-day rule would not apply. Which rule would then apply depends on the length of the leave period requested.
Limitations for leave requests over 30 days
For FMLA leave requests more than 30 days in duration, your employer is not allowed to request recertification until the minimum time period of the initial request has expired. When that period expires, then requests for recertification can be made every 30 days. This rule does not apply, however, for requests for leave of more than 6 months. In that case, recertification can be requested every 6 months. In other words, the frequency of the requests is governed by the amount of leave requested. If the leave period will continue for more than one calendar year, as with long-term intermittent FMLA leave, then annual recertification can be requested. Limitations for leave requests of less than 30 Days A request for recertification when leave is less than 30 days would, in most cases, violate the 30-day rule. However, there may be an exception in cases where the employee requests an extension of the initial FMLA leave. Another exception may be when the circumstances surrounding the initial certification have changed significantly. The employer can then ask for recertification to determine whether the current situation still falls within the FMLA. For instance, changes in the amount of leave requested or the medical condition can be reasons to request medical recertification.
Recertification to verify the legitimacy of the initial FMLA request It is important to remember that an employer is also allowed to request recertification if it has received any information which would cast doubt on the need for FMLA leave. For instance, if an employee claims to have a physical condition preventing her from working, but is seen in public engaging in physical activity in conflict with the medical claim, recertification would be reasonable. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.