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What are an employer's options when employees do not return FMLA certification forms?

When an employee fails to provide required Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) certification, the employer, as allowed in the FMLA regulations, may delay or deny the taking of FMLA leave. At the time the employer requested certification, it must have advised the employee of anticipated consequences of the employee’s failure to provide adequate documentation. It is the employee’s responsibility to furnish a complete and sufficient certification to the employer to support the employee’s FMLA request. This must be accomplished within 15 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 the employer provides more than 15 calendar days.

When the employer delays or denies the designation of an absence as FMLA leave, any time the employee has missed or continues to miss can be subject to the employer’s normal attendance and time-off policies and procedures, assuming this has been detailed in the employer’s FMLA policy and required notices. Employers should caution employees who fail to provide requested certification that sick, vacation or other time-off plans do not necessarily offer job protection in and of themselves. Rather, it is a function of company policy and practice as to how and when employees may use these benefits and whether an employer will discipline for overuse or misuse. When consequences are clear, employees will generally provide requested certification to ensure all FMLA-qualified leave is designated as such.


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