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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Link to Department of Labor Website

 

FAQ's about Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):
Q. Can I use FMLA leave during pregnancy or after the birth of a child?

A. Yes. An employee’s ability to use FMLA leave during pregnancy or after the birth of a child has not changed. Under the regulations, a mother can use 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth of a child, for prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy, and for her own serious health condition following the birth of a child. A father can use FMLA leave for the birth of a child and to care for his spouse who is incapacitated (due to pregnancy or child birth).

Q. Can I use FMLA for leave due to my chronic serious health condition?

A. Under the regulations, employees continue to be able to use FMLA leave for any period of incapacity or treatment due to a chronic serious health condition. The regulations define a chronic serious health condition as one that (1) requires “periodic visits” for treatment by a health care provider or nurse under the supervision of the health care provider, (2) continues over an extended period of time, and (3) may cause episodic rather than continuing periods of incapacity. The regulations clarify this definition by defining “periodic visits” as at least twice a year.

Q. How much notice must an employee give before taking FMLA leave?

A. When the need for leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, or planned medical treatment, an employee must give at least 30 days notice. If 30 days notice is not possible, an employee is required to provide notice “as soon as practicable.”  The regulations clarify that it should be practicable for an employee to provide notice of the need for leave that is foreseeable either the same day or the next business day. When the need for leave is unforeseeable, employees are required to provide notice as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances of the particular case, which the regulations clarify will generally be within the time prescribed by the employer’s usual and customary notice requirements applicable to the leave.

Q. Can employers require employees to submit a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work after being absent due to a serious health condition?

A. Yes. As a condition of restoring an employee who was absent on FMLA leave due to the employee’s own serious health condition, an employer may have a uniformly applied policy or practice that requires all similarly situated employees who take leave for such conditions to submit a certification from the employee’s own health care provider that the employee is able to resume work. Under the regulations, an employer may require that the fitness-for-duty certification address the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the position if the employer has appropriately notified the employee that this information will be required and has provided a list of essential functions. Additionally, an employer may require a fitness-for-duty certification up to once every 30 days for an employee taking intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA leave if reasonable safety concerns exist regarding the employee's ability to perform his or her duties based on the condition for which leave was taken. NOTE: LESD does require fitness-for-duty certification on certain leaves. The Designation Notice you receive will state if this is required and a job description will be attached.

Q. What happens if I do not submit a requested medical or fitness-for-duty certification?

A. If an employee fails to timely submit a properly requested medical certification (absent sufficient explanation of the delay), FMLA protection for the leave may be delayed or denied. If the employee never provides a medical certification, then the leave is not FMLA leave.
If an employee fails to submit a properly requested fitness-for-duty certification, the employer may delay job restoration until the employee provides the certification. If the employee never provides the certification, he or she may be denied reinstatement.

Q. Can my FMLA leave be counted against me for my bonus?

A. Under the regulations, an employer may deny a bonus that is based upon achieving a goal, such as hours worked, products sold or perfect attendance, to an employee who takes FMLA leave (and thus does not achieve the goal) as long as it treats employees taking FMLA leave the same as employees taking non-FMLA leave.

Q. Can I use my paid leave as FMLA leave?

A. Under the regulations, an employee may choose to substitute accrued paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave if the employee complies with the terms and conditions of the employer’s applicable paid leave policy. The regulations also clarify that substituting paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave means that the two types of leave run concurrently, with the employee receiving pay pursuant to the paid leave policy and receiving protection for the leave under the FMLA. NOTE:  LESD does require substituting paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave.