MSU Human Resources >> Timoffleave >> Supportstaff >> FMLA Certification

FMLA Certification

What documentation must be accepted for certification for military caregiver leave?

Is "calling in sick" without providing more information sufficient notice to trigger an employer's obligations under the act?

What information must be provided to an employee going on FMLA leave?

When must an employee provide medical certification to support an FMLA leave request and what information is requested?

What if the certification is not complete?

What if the certification is insufficient?

What if the department is questioning the authenticity of the certification?

What if the department needs clarification on the certification?

Is it possible to obtain second and third opinions?

Under what circumstances must a department request subsequent recertifications of medical conditions to support leave requests?

When is a recertification considered a "new" certification?

How can an employer manage absenteeism if the employee continues to claim leave taken is covered by FMLA?

What documentation must be accepted for certification for military caregiver leave?

MSU must accept from an eligible employee requesting such leave military forms know as "ITOs" and "ITAs". Known as "invitational travel orders" and "invitational travel authorizations," ITOs and ITAs are issued to permit an injured service member's family members to travel to join the service member at her or her bedside. An employee who submits an ITO or an ITA to support his request for caregiver leave may not be required to provide any additional certification during the time period specified in the ITO/ITA. If the employee seeks leave for the same purpose beyond the time period specified in the ITO/ITA, however, the employer may then require the employee to support such further leave with the Military Caregiver Form. ITOs/ITAs are subject to authentication and clarification, but not recertification or 2nd/3rd opinions.  When an employee requesting leave submits an ITO/ITA, the employer may also require the employee to confirm his family relationship to the covered service member.

Is "calling in sick" without providing more information sufficient notice to trigger an employer's obligations under the act?

Calling in "sick" without providing more information will not be considered sufficient notice to trigger an employer's obligations under the Act. The employer will be expected to obtain any additional required information through informal means. An employee has an obligation to respond to an employer's questions designed to determine whether an absence is potentially FMLA-qualifying. Failure to respond to reasonable employer inquires regarding the leave request may result in denial of FMLA protection if the employer is unable to determine whether the leave is FMLA-qualifying.

What information must be provided to an employee going on FMLA leave?

Once the employer is aware the leave is being taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employer must promptly (within five [5] business days, absent extenuating circumstances) notify the employee the leave will be designated as FMLA leave. The employer's notification to the employee of the FMLA designation may be oral, but must be confirmed in writing no later than the next regular paydate. The required  Notice of Eligibility, Rights and Responsibilities and Designation Notice is to be used to confirm the FMLA leave and to explain the specific expectations and obligations of the employee and any consequence of failure to meet these obligations.  This form is required for the use of FMLA for the employee themselves, covered family member, qualifying exigency and military caregiver leave.  If the FMLA leave being requested is for the purpose of adoption or providing foster care, the employee must provide documentation from the granting agency.

An employee's request for leave to care for her/his seriously-ill spouse, son, daughter, or parent, or for the employee's own serious health condition, must be supported by medical certification issued by the health care provider. FMLA leave for a qualified exigency leave or military caregiver leave also must be supported by certification. For information regarding the appropriate form to use for these types of leave, visit the FMLA forms page .

Human Resources Benefits are expected to promptly answer questions from employees concerning their FMLA rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.

When must an employee provide medical certification to support an FMLA leave request and what information may be requested?

A department must require that an employee's request for leave to care for her/his seriously-ill spouse/eligible partner, son, daughter, or parent, for the employee's own serious health condition be supported by medical certification issued by the health care provider. A qualifying exigency or military caregiver leave must also be supported by certification. The certification describes the maximum amount of information that can be requested of a health care provider. The department must allow at least 15 calendar days after notifying the employee that certification is required. At the time a department requests certification, they must advise an employee of the consequences for failing to provide adequate certification. If the certification is incomplete or insufficient, the employer must state in writing what additional information is necessary to satisfy the certification requirement. The employer must then give the employee seven calendar days to cure the deficiency. If the employee fails to do so, the employer may deny the leave.

What if the certification is not complete?

The university requires the employee to provide a complete and sufficient certification to the employer. The employer shall advise an employee whenever the employer finds a certification incomplete or insufficient, and shall state in writing, using the  Notice of Eligibility, Rights and Responsibilities and Designation Notice what additional information is necessary to make the certification complete and sufficient. A certification is considered incomplete if the employer receives a certification, but one or more of the applicable entries have not been completed. The employee will have seven (7) days to cure any deficiencies.

What if the certification is insufficient?

The certification is considered insufficient if the department receives a complete certification, but the information provided is vague, ambiguous, or non-responsive. The employee will have seven (7) days to cure any deficiencies. The employer must provide the employee with seven (7) calendar days (unless not practicable under the particular circumstances despite the employee's diligent good faith efforts) to cure any such deficiency. If the deficiencies specified by the employer are not cured in the resubmitted certification, the employer may deny the taking of FMLA leave.

What if the department is questioning the authenticity of the certification?

If a department questions the authenticity of a medical certification provided under the FMLA, it may not request additional information from that health care provider, but the new revisions allow the MSU Human Resource FMLA/Leave Team Member to contact the medical provider directly. No additional medical information can be requested, and the employee's permission is not needed.

What if the department needs clarification on the certification?

The new revisions allow the MSU Human Resource FMLA/Leave Team Member to contact the medical provider directly. "Clarification" refers to requests to decipher handwriting or to understand the meaning of a response. Again, no additional medical information can be obtained. An employee can choose not to allow the employer to seek clarification, but then the employer may deny the leave if the certification is unclear.

Is it possible to obtain second and third opinions?

An employee may be required to obtain a second opinion, at the department's expense, if reasonable doubt exists as to the validity of a medical certification. MSU is permitted to designate the health care provider to furnish the second opinion, but the selected health care provider cannot be employed on a regular basis by MSU (i.e., MSU may not regularly contract with or otherwise regularly utilize the services of the health care provider furnishing the second opinion).  If the first and second opinions differ, an employee may be required to obtain certification from a third health care provider again at the department's expense. This third opinion shall be final and binding. The third health care provider must be designated and approved jointly by MSU and the employee.

Pending receipt of a second or third medical opinion, the employee is provisionally entitled to benefits of the Act.

Under what circumstances must a department request subsequent recertifications of medical conditions to support leave requests?

Human Resource Benefits FMLA/Leave Team must request recertification every six months, but not more often than every 30 days, unless:

  1. the employee requests an extension of leave;
  2. circumstances described by the original certification have changed significantly; or
  3. the department receives information that casts doubt upon the continuing validity of the certification.

If the original certification was for a period in excess of 30 days, no recertification may be requested prior to the end of that period unless one of the circumstances listed above applies.

When is a recertification considered a "new" certification?

The revised regulations allow an employer to seek recertification every six months even if the nature of the condition is such that it could last longer than that. In addition, the DOL has ruled that an employer may ask for new certification (as opposed to recertification) after one year of eligibility. At the time, the employer may request new medical certification, not simply recertification, and may seek a second or third medical opinion. The employer may also reassess eligibility, such as whether the employee meets the 1,250 hour requirement.

How can an employer manage absenteeism if the employee continues to claim leave taken is covered by FMLA?

MSU Human Resource Benefits is required to request medical certification and recertification in connection with FMLA-qualifying serious health conditions. Please refer to the frequently asked questions listed above: What if the certification is not complete?, What if the certification is insufficient?, What if the department is questioning the authenticity of the certification?, What if the department needs clarification on the certification?. If the employee does not provide the medical certification, the absence is not FMLA leave. The employer may also require documentation from the employee to confirm family relationships. In addition to the basic concept that the 12 weeks of leave mandated by FMLA may be unpaid, these requirements should serve to discourage the inappropriate use of FMLA leave.

Print this page