What should a Human Resources Department do in the following circumstance? An employee requests family and medical leave to care for a child with a serious health condition and is provided DOL forms, including the medical certification request. After 15 days, the employee fails to return the completed form and ignores the employer’s follow-up about the leave request. The employer denies the leave request, and two weeks later, the employee leaves work without advance notice and again requests FMLA leave to deal with the child’s medical condition. Does the initial FMLA leave denial preclude the employee from renewing the request for leave?
According to the Department of Labor, the answer is no. Nothing in the FMLA precludes an employee from renewing a request for leave that is denied because she fails to provide adequate medical certification, even in the absence of evidence of changed circumstances or a good reason for failing to complete the first leave request. Upon receipt of the second leave request, the employee should be conditionally granted leave and provided with another opportunity to medically certify the need for leave. Of course, any time missed from work prior to the second leave request would not be considered FMLA protected and can be treated by the employer under its regular attendance policy.
Employers should not let employees’ inattentiveness to leave request procedures limit or otherwise affect their subsequent requests for time away from work.