What if my employer requires medical certification for FMLA?

In New York, employee rights and benefits workers are supposed to receive under labor law is a common cause for dispute. There could be a variety of reasons for this. In some instances, the employer wants to make it as difficult as possible for an employee to use such benefits as the Family and Medical Leave Act. Regardless of the reason, an employer has the right to requests that an employee provide medical certification as to the reason for the absence. It is important to know what the law says about medical certification in the event the employer does not provide the benefits after the request for information was followed.

The employee must provide the medical certification within 15 days after it has been requested by the employer. The employee bears the responsibility for the cost of getting the certification from a health care provider and to ensure that it has been given to the employer. The failure to provide the information might result in FMLA request being denied.

There is certain information that must be included in the medical certification. There must be the following: the health care provider's contact information; the time at which the health condition started; the amount of time the condition is expected to last; facts regarding the condition such as what the symptoms are, if hospitalization is needed, what doctor visits were required, and if there were referrals; if the person cannot work or there is a family member who needs to be cared for; and if the absence will be ongoing or intermittent - an estimate of the amount of time that will be needed should be provided.

If there is missing information, the employer must let the employee know. The employee must provide the information within seven calendar days. If there is an issue with the claim's validity, the employer can ask for a second opinion, but must pay for it. If there is a difference between the first two opinions, the employer can ask for a third opinion, but must pay for it. If the absence is for an extended period or it changes, the certification might require upgrading.

Employees have a right to time off under FMLA. However, there might be issues with the medical certification or another factor in the request. For people who are facing a problem with their FMLA rights, it is important to discuss the matter with an attorney experienced in employee benefits and, if necessary, employee litigation.

Source: dol.gov, "The Employee's Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act -- Medical Certification, pages 12-13," accessed on July 2, 2017

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