Employees must return sufficient and timely information to certify their FMLA leave. Certification of FMLA medical leave is relatively easy to determine, as the certification forms each contain a box which the practitioner will check if an FMLA condition is present.
Failure to Present Documentation
Employees who fail to provide the required documentation to certify FMLA leave may have his/her provisional FML designation discussed in 6.1 removed from the leave records, and will therefore not receive benefits or job protection under the FMLA for those absences. Human Resources must be contacted prior to such removal of FMLA leave, as employees must be notified in writing in the event FMLA leave has been removed or denied.
Clarification or Authentication of the Certification Form
Employers who receive a complete and sufficient certification form signed by the health care provider may not request additional information from the provider. However, the employer may contact the health care provider for purposes of clarification or authentication of the document after the employer has given the employee an opportunity to cure any of the deficiencies in the document.
- Payroll and HR Services should be consulted prior to obtaining clarification or authentication of a document.
- An employee’s direct supervisor may not make contact with the health care provider; employer contact to the provider may be made only by a human resources professional, leave administrator, or a management official not in the employee’s chain of authority.
- “Clarification” means contacting the provider to understand the handwriting on the medical form, or to understand the meaning of a response to a question on the document.
- “Authentication” means providing the health care provider with a copy of the certification and requesting verification that the information contained on the form was completed and/or authorized by the health care provider who signed the document.
- Questions directed to the provider regarding clarification or authentication are strictly limited to the questions on the certification form.
Complete and Sufficient Certification
The employee must provide a complete and sufficient certification to the employer. The employer must advise the employee in writing whenever the the employer finds a certification incomplete or insufficient.
- Payroll and HR Services should be consulted if information received is incomplete or otherwise insufficient.
- “Incomplete” means the submitted documentation is missing one or more of the applicable entries.
- “Insufficient” means means the document is complete but the requested information is vague, ambiguous, or non-responsive.
- The employee must be given at least seven calendar days (unless not practicable under the circumstances despite the employee’s diligent good faith efforts) to cure the deficiency.
Requesting an Updated Certification Form
In addition to requesting updated information for reasons as outlined in 8.2 and 8.3, administrators may request an updated certification form if:
- the employee is missing more work than the physician has indicated is needed; or
- the employee’s current certification form for the condition on file is no longer applicable (i.e., the physician has indicated the employee may return to work without restrictions).
The employee must be notified of the need for an updated certification form in writing and must be given at least 15 calendar days to provide the information. Additionally, employers may not request updates within a 6-month period if the certification form indicates a lifetime condition and the employee’s absences are consistent with the physician’s recommendations and estimations of time off needed. Administrators should contact Payroll and HR Services for guidance in the event an employee is missing work in excess of the time the physician has estimated is needed.
FMLA Leave which Extends into the Next Fiscal Year
Employees may continue to take FMLA leave from one fiscal year to the next. However, employees must re-qualify for FMLA leave during the new fiscal year. The following examples illustrate how FMLA leave should be administered from one fiscal year to the next.
Example 1: An employee has been using intermittent FML in early August. Her illness subsides for a period of time and she returns to work in late August, but the same condition flares up again on September 15 and she begins to miss work on that date.
Administration: The employee must re-qualify for FML because a new fiscal year begins on September 1. Administrators must conduct a new 1,250-hour test for this employee. The employee’s length of service does not need to be considered, as the employee has already established that she has worked for the employer for at least 12 months. The new 1,250-hour test should be conducted for the period of September 15 (the new date she needs the FMLA leave) through September 15 of the previous year. The employee qualifies for a new 12-week period of FML if she has worked 1,250 during the 12-month period in question. If records show she has not worked the requisite amount of hours, she must be notified in writing that she does not qualify for FML.
Example 2: An employee has been using continuous FML since July 1 and, according to certification, is not able to return to work until October 10.
Administration: The employee must re-qualify for FML because a new fiscal year begins on September 1. Administrators must conduct a new 1,250-hour test for this employee. The employee’s length of service does not need to be considered, as the employee has already established that she has worked for the employer for at least 12 months. The new 1,250-hour test should be conducted for the period of September 1 (the new fiscal year date she needs the FMLA leave) through September 1 of the previous year. The employee qualifies for a new 12-week period of FML if she has worked 1,250 during the 12-month period in question. If records show she has not worked the requisite amount of hours, she must be notified in writing that she does not qualify for FML.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
The Genetic information Nondiscrimination Act requires that Texas A&M Health Science Center take affirmative steps to avoid receiving genetic information about employees or any of their family members. Administrators and Liaisons must use current GINA-compliant certification forms directly from our website, and must also limit the amount of information an employee’s direct supervisor receives about his/her employee’s health condition.