Sometimes family or medical emergencies come up that cause an employee to be unable to work for an extended period of time.
If you find yourself in that situation you may be concerned about losing your job and/or your insurance benefits as a result of your extended absence from your job.
Fortunately, your position and your benefits may be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. If you have never applied for FMLA leave before you likely have a number of important questions, such as “Am I required to submit a medical certificate for FMLA leave?”
The FMLA if a federal act that allows eligible employees who work for a covered employer to take up to 12 months of leave without losing their job or their benefits if the leave is needed for any of the following reasons:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;”
When you request your FMLA your employer is allowed to ask you to submit an approved medical certification confirming that you, or a family member, does indeed have a serious medical condition that requires you to take the requested leave.
Your employer may not, however, request a medical certification if the need for the FMLA leave is because you wish to bond with a newborn baby or with a newly adopted baby.
As a general rule, if your employer does request a medical certification it is your responsibility to provide a complete and sufficient certification within 15 calendar days after the request has been made by your employer.
You are also responsible for any costs associated with securing the certification. If the certification is lacking in any way your employer must explain to you in writing what else is needed and you must respond within seven days.
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 non-responsive. In addition, an employer may request a second opinion if the employer has reason to doubt the validity of the first certification.
Finally, if you plan to be out for a prolonged period of time your employer may ask for a recertification every six months.
If you have additional questions or concerns about FMLA leave or employment law in general, contact our experienced Florida employment law attorneys.