Pam’s Medical Leave Certificate under Lock and Key but we have no keys

FMLA certification is a medical confirmation that is generally  required  for employees to take leave per the Family Medical Leave Act. Generally, this is required in the case of employees or their direct family members sustaining a serious health condition that requires time off work for care-giving or recuperation. The problem is that Pam indicated that her certification was completed and approved by Ms. Tebo. And when Mr. Jones requested such, he was told it was under lock and key but he has no locks and keys because he certainly was not left with keys, not even keys for Pam’s filing cabinet. Oh dear, a landmine!

If the employer requests medical certification, the employee is responsible for providing a complete and sufficient certification, generally within 15 calendar days after the employer’s request. The employee is responsible for paying for the cost of the medical certification and for making sure the certification is provided to the employer. If the certification is incomplete or insufficient, the employer must give the employee a written notice stating what additional information is necessary to make the certification complete and sufficient. The employee must provide the additional information to the employer within seven calendar days, in most circumstances. • A certification is considered “incomplete” if one or more of the applicable entries on the form have not been completed. • A certification is considered “insufficient” if the information provided is vague, unclear, or unresponsive. This is the problem. We don’t know if it is complete since it is under lock and key and Jones did not see the Certificate.

The FMLA does not require the use of any specific certification form. The Department has developed optional forms that can be used for leave for an employee’s own serious health condition (WH380-E) or to care for a family member’s serious health condition (WH-380-F), or the employer may use its own forms. If the employer chooses to use its own forms, it may not require any additional information beyond what is specified in the FMLA and its regulations. Employers must accept a complete and sufficient medical certification, regardless of the format. In all instances, the information requested on the certification form must relate only to the serious health condition for which the employee is seeking leave.

FITNESS-FOR-DUTY The employer may have a policy or practice that requires employees in similar job positions who take leave for similar health conditions to provide a return to work, or “fitness-for-duty,” certification from the employee’s health care provider showing that the employee is able to resume work. The employer may request a fitnessfor-duty certification only with regard to the particular health condition that caused the employee’s need for FMLA leave. If the employer will require a fitness-for-duty certification, it must provide notice of that requirement and whether the certification must address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job with the FMLA designation notice.

The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid vacation leave, paid sick or family leave for some or all of the FMLA leave period. … When paid leave is used for an FMLA-covered reason, the leave is FMLA-protected Pam Tomlinson is using her accrued vacation and sick time leave. But one questions, since she has taken so much time off, did she really have that much leave to be paid from November 12th to February 10th.

They are not allowed to pressure employees, suggest they return to work early, make veiled threats about the employee’s right to return to work (“I’m not sure if we’ll be able to keep your job open if you can‘t return sooner,”), or otherwise interfere with the employee’s FMLA leave

The Town of White Springs has the right to contact Ms. Tomlinson during her leave.Not all surgeries and recoveries go according to plan. That’s why the FMLA allows employers to check in with employees on FMLA leave periodically, to find out their status and their plans for returning to work. However, these requests for status reports must be reasonable, considering all of the facts (including the employee’s condition). Checking in too often or asking for too much detail could cross the line into coercion. I really do believe someone should check in as to how to get access to the Certification which is required.

The FMLA doesn’t provide detailed rules about how often employers may request these status reports. Generally, it depends on the employee’s situation. For an employee , who has a detailed medical prognosis and return to work plan, monthly check-ins might be appropriate, just to make sure everything is proceeding as it should. An employee whose situation is more fluid and unpredictable might expect more frequent contact from work.

The Town of White Springs, however, is not allowed to pressure employees, suggest they return to work early, make veiled threats about the employee’s right to return to work (“I’m not sure if we’ll be able to keep your job open if you can’t return sooner,”), or otherwise interfere with the employee’s FMLA leave. Yet as I understand it an immediate plea will be going out to FMLA regarding the fact that Pam’s job is crucial to the Town (A KEY EMPLOYEE POSITION) and as a result if someone is found her job may not still be available. That is what I understood but no where have I found anything that would substantiate the Town’s request but it is in our Town Attorney’s hands for handling.

If Pam needs an intermittent/reduced schedule leave for foreseeable medical treatments, she must work with Mr. Jones to schedule the leave so as not disrupt the employer’s operations, subject to the approval of the employee’s health care provider. In such cases, the Town may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodate recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job. Yet it does not say Pam could be pressured that her job would not be available so I am a bit confused about what the Town intends to do but at least it is in good hands with our Attorney.

Employees seeking to use FMLA leave are required to provide 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable and such notice is practicable. This decision seems to be one that is last minute since the Town only received five days notice I believe.

If leave is foreseeable less than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable – generally, either the same or next business day. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice to the employer as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances of the particular case. Absent unusual circumstances, employees must comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave.

Karin for the blog

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