Category Archives: Medical Certification

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An Employee Requests and is Denied Vacation Leave but Later Takes FMLA Leave for the Same Time Period. What Recourse Does an Employer Have?

This scenario is all too familiar for employers: shortly before Christmas, your employee requests vacation leave for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.  Due to seniority or the employee’s last minute request for time off, her leave request is denied.  However, like clockwork, she calls off sick and requests FMLA leave on Christmas Eve and NYE, claiming she can’t work due to a … Continue Reading

A Couple Quick Tips to Fight FMLA Abuse Around the Holidays

Have your employees’ absences from work been a bit more frequent lately?  And are you tired of the lame excuses they’re providing?  After all, there are only so many times your employee’s dog can knock over the Christmas tree….on top of your employee, right? In this “best of” FMLA post, employers need not settle for patterns of … Continue Reading

Best Practices for Employers When Administering FMLA Leave: A Recap of our Webinar

Thanks to those who attended my webinar last week with Matt Morris and Tamika Lynch on “FMLA Made Easy: Effectively Managing Difficult FMLA Issues.”  If you missed the program, you can access the webinar and materials here.  As the survey feedback indicated, this webinar was a great opportunity to discuss common issues that arise in the administration … Continue Reading

Last Chance to Sign Up for our Complimentary FMLA Webinar set for this Thursday, December 6 (12 p.m. CST)

Reports on the street indicate that people literally are lining up and begging for the last seat for a complimentary FMLA webinar I am hosting this Thursday, December 6.  (See right.)  The good thing is that, as subscribers to our blog, you and your colleagues still can sign up.  (See details below.)  I hope you can … Continue Reading

Hurricane Sandy and the FMLA: Are Your Employees Eligible for Leave During a Natural Disaster?

Our thoughts and prayers are with those on the east coast who are attempting to return to some sense of normalcy in the wake of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy.  Natural disasters like Sandy raise a host of issues for employers: how do you pay your employees during during suspended operations?  Whether and … Continue Reading

"No Soup for You!" If An Employee Doesn't Turn in Medical Certification, FMLA Leave is Not Protected

Last week, I responded to an FAQ that often arises for employers when administering the Family and Medical Leave Act: How do employers count unexcused absences when an employee does not return medical certification?  Here’s a real life application of this question:  Kimberly Miedema was an employee of Spectrum Catering, and after having claimed she … Continue Reading

FMLA FAQ: How Do Employers Count Unexcused Absences When FMLA Medical Certification is Not Returned?

Q: We requested that an employee have his health care provider complete FMLA medical certification in conjunction with what appears to be an FMLA-related absence.  The employee has been off work for 30 days and we still have not received certification.  Can we count any of these days as unexcused absences? A: Before you get to the “unexcused … Continue Reading

The DOL's FMLA Forms Expired on December 31, 2011. Should Employers Still Use Them?

In a flurry of activity at the end of 2011, several employers contacted me to determine whether the DOL notice and certification forms still were valid, even though they contain an expiration date of December 31, 2011.  In short, employers may continue to use the DOL’s FMLA forms, although consider our suggestions below before using … Continue Reading

Employee Who Refuses to Provide Sufficient Medical Certification under FMLA is Lawfully Terminated

One the biggest FMLA headaches for employers is when an employee fails or refuses to provide information to cure insufficient or incomplete medical certification.  When the employer does not have the information to determine whether an absence qualifies as FMLA leave, it is left with a true dilemma: Try and obtain permission to talk to the … Continue Reading

Play Ball! An FMLA Lineup That Keeps You in the Pennant Race

In this opening weekend of major league baseball, hope springs eternal for every baseball fan.  In honor of my beloved Chicago White Sox, I offer an FMLA lineup card below that from top to bottom will help employers stay atop the pennant race throughout the year.  [First, feel free to play the National Anthem if you so desire…] From … Continue Reading

As FMLA Absences Mount, the Employer Must Lay Down the Law

Cook County, Illinois (the county in which Chicago is located) currently faces one of the largest budget deficits in its government’s history.  So, when the Cook County Board president (Toni Preckwinkle) tells the County Sheriff (Tom Dart) to cut $70 million from his budget, it tends to grab people’s attention.  In this story, however, this … Continue Reading

BLR Webinar: FMLA Certification

Some of the most common questions thrown at us by clients involve how to effectively navigate the medical certification process.  Join us on Tuesday, December 21, at 12:30 p.m. CST, for a webinar entitled “FMLA Certifications: How to Effectively – and Legally – Use This Weapon To Combat Abuse.”  Overview Medical certifications may just be … Continue Reading

2nd Update: GINA and certification forms

Following up on our initial post and previous update regarding the new Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act regulations (which you may wish to read first), here is what we’ve learned:  To recap, GINA prohibits employers from acquiring genetic information about employees. There are certain limited exceptions to this prohibition, one of which is for inadvertent acquisition … Continue Reading

Update: Does GINA really require you to change your certification form?

Earlier this afternoon I received a voice message from an attorney in the EEOC General Counsel’s office, suggesting that our earlier post might have gotten things wrong when we said that employers should include the new GINA “safe harbor” language in their FMLA certification forms. So far we have only been able to exchange voice … Continue Reading

GINA Rules Require New Disclosures In Requests For FMLA Certification

Employers covered by the FMLA should take note of new final regulations under the Genetic Information Nondicrimination Act (GINA) published this week by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Although the FMLA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, not the EEOC, the new GINA regulations require employers who seek medical certifications in support … Continue Reading

6th Circuit: Employee Can Proceed With FMLA Claim Despite "Negative Certification"

When an employee remains absent even after her doctor provides a medical certification confirming that she can return to work, it might seem reasonable for an employer to deny the employee any further FMLA leave and, if the employee fails to return, to terminate her employment. However, if the employer has not specifically informed the … Continue Reading

Medical Certifications - Why, When and How? - Podcast No. 15

The medical certification is perhaps the employer’s most important tool for managing FMLA leave. Unfortunately, many employers simply don’t use the certification process, or don’t use it properly. In this podcast, we discuss why medical certifications are important, when and how to request them, and what to do when an employee fails to return a … Continue Reading