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Obtaining a Medical Certification for a Serious Health Condition Under the FMLA


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits employees of covered employers to seek unpaid leave with guaranteed job protection under certain circumstances. One of the most common reasons employees seek leave under the FMLA is if they have a serious health condition or wish to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Under the FMLA, an employer may require an employee seeking leave for this reason to obtain a medical certification supporting the existence of a serious health condition. There are a few important things to bear in mind when taking steps to obtain the necessary certification.

How Much Time Do I Have to Give My Employer a Certification?

Generally, an employee has fifteen days after an employer requests a certification to provide a “complete and sufficient certification” to their employer. If the original certification you submit to your employer is deficient, your employer must give you time to fix or “cure” the defects in your certification and inform you of what those defects are. However, if you fail to cure the defects within the given time period, an employer may deny your request for leave.

Does My Health Care Provider Have to Use My Employer’s Certification Form?

Not necessarily. The FMLA merely requires that an employee provide a “complete and sufficient certification,” not that they must use a given employer’s approved certification form. As long as the employer’s certification contains sufficient information and is executed by their health care provider, this is typically sufficient.

That being said, there are a few components that are usually required for a “complete and sufficient certification,” including the following:

  • Signature by health care provider;
  • Contact information for the health care provider;
  • Statement of the care needed (particularly if the employee is requesting leave to care for a family member);
  • Description of the nature of the condition including when it began and how long it will last;
  • Dates of requested leave;
  • Information showing necessity of the leave; and
  • If an employee is requesting leave for their own health condition, a statement saying the employee cannot perform their ordinary job functions.

The Department of Labor provides a medical certification form as an example of what would be considered complete and sufficient.

Who Has to Pay For the Certification?

An increasing number of doctors are requiring people to pay to obtain a medical certification. The FMLA provides that it is the employee’s responsibility to pay for all costs associated with obtaining the certification.

Can My Employer Ask My Health Care Provider for Additional Information About My Condition?

No, an employer may not request any additional information from the health care provider once they find an employee has furnished a complete and sufficient certification. However, your employer’s HR department may reach out to your health care provider and ask that they authenticate and certify the document.

Contact an Experienced Clearwater Employment Lawyer

The skilled employment attorneys at Dilla Employment Law, P.A. in Clearwater can help you ensure you have the required information for your medical certification to seek leave under the FMLA to care for a serious health condition you or a family member has. Contact us today for a free case review.


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