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Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for Coronavirus

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- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Medical Certification - General

An employer may require that an employee's FMLA leave to care for the employee's qualifying family member with a serious health condition, or due to the employee's own serious health condition, be supported by a certification issued by the health care provider of the employee or the employee's family member. An employer must give notice (written or oral, as applicable) of a requirement for medical certification each time it is required.

In most cases, the employer should request that an employee furnish certification from a health care provider 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.

  • The employer may request certification at some later date if the employer later has reason to question the appropriateness of the leave or its duration.
  • The employee must provide the requested certification to the employer within 15 calendar days after the employer's request, unless it is not practicable under the particular circumstances to do so despite the employee's diligent, good faith efforts or unless the employer provides more than 15 calendar days to do so.

Complete and Sufficient
The employee must provide a complete and sufficient medical certification to the employer, if required by the employer.

  • The employer must advise an employee whenever the employer finds a certification incomplete or insufficient and must state in writing what additional information is necessary to make the certification complete and sufficient.
    • A certification is considered incomplete if one or more of the applicable entries have not been completed.
    • A certification is considered insufficient if the information provided is vague, ambiguous or non-responsive.
  • The employer must provide the employee with seven calendar days to cure any such deficiency, unless not practicable under the particular circumstances despite the employee's diligent, good faith efforts.
    • If the deficiencies specified by the employer are not cured in the resubmitted certification, the employer may deny the taking of FMLA leave.
    • A certification that is not returned to the employer is not considered incomplete or insufficient, but constitutes a failure to provide certification.

At the time the employer requests certification, the employer must also advise an employee of the anticipated consequences of an employee's failure to provide adequate certification.

  • If the employee fails to provide the employer with any certification, or a complete and sufficient medical certification, despite the opportunity to cure the certification, the employer may deny the taking of FMLA leave.
  • It is the employee's responsibility either to furnish a complete and sufficient certification or to furnish the health care provider who is providing the certification with any necessary authorization from the employee or the employee's family member in order for the health care provider to provide a complete and sufficient certification to the employer to support the FMLA request.
  • Where the employee's need for leave lasts beyond a single leave year, the employer may require the employee to provide a new medical certification in each subsequent leave year.

For more information on the consequences of failing to provide certification, see § 825.313.

Continue to Medical Certification – Content or Return to Required Documentation/Certifications from Employees.

For more information on this aspect of the FMLA, see the FMLA regulations: § 825.305, § 825.313