Handling FMLA leave when it spans multiple years

In a perfect world, employees would never get sick or injured.

Posted January 18, 2016

If they did, it would be nice if they needed only a couple days away from work; certainly no more than two weeks. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and not every serious health condition lasts for a limited period of time. Many, in fact, continue even for an individual’s lifetime, and require intermittent time off. This, of course, means that an employee’s need for intermittent time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will likely span multiple 12-month periods. How you deal with such events will depend upon some specifics. Certification

When dealing with a long-term condition, you will likely want to ensure that the reason continues to qualify for FMLA protections as time goes by. This, of course, is generally accomplished through the use of a certification or recertification. You may request a certification when you first learn of the need for leave. You may request recertifications no more often than every 30 days or when the minimum duration of the condition expires, whichever is later. With long-term conditions, the minimum duration might never expire. In such situations, therefore, you may request a recertification every six months.

You may request a new certification when an employee requests leave for the first time in a new 12-month period. While the same form may be used for certification and recertification, the rules between the two are different. For example, while you may request a second or third opinion on a new certification, you may not do so on a recertification.

12-month period

Which method you use to calculate the 12-month period will dictate when you may request a new certification when the need for leave spans multiple years. If, for example, you are using the calendar year method, you may request a new certification when an employee requests leave for the first time after January 1. If you are using the rolling backward method, the 12-month period would expire 12 months after the employee first began taking FMLA leave for the chronic condition. Therefore, if an employee first began taking FMLA leave for a chronic condition on April 23, 2015, you may request a new certification when the employee requests leave for the first time after April 23, 2016.

While chronic, long-term, and permanent conditions can pose some challenges, they can be handled with a little effort and knowing how to use certifications.


 

FMLA EssentialsManualJ. J. Keller's FMLA Essentials Manual uses clear, conversational language to help you understand the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) requirements.

 

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