What information can the University request in the medical certification of a serious health condition?
You cannot request a diagnosis or description of the condition. Medical certification is limited to the following information:
- Confirmation that the employee (or the employee's family member) has a serious health condition as defined by Federal and State law;
- The date of the onset of the serious health condition;
- The probable duration of the serious health condition;
- A written statement that the employee is not able to perform the essential functions of his or her job; and
- If intermittent leave or a reduced work schedule is being considered, a statement that it is medically necessary.
Under law, medical certification is discretionary for both staff and academic appointees. Leave may be designated by the Department as falling under FMLA/CFRA if you know, or have reason to believe, a serious health condition exists (e.g., the employee is hospitalized). However, University policies and union contracts for staff and academic personnel differ on whether medical certification is mandatory in order to document a FMLA/CFRA qualifying event. Check the applicable policy or union contract, or consult with your Employee Relations Specialist or Office of Academic Personnel.
The University may require medical re-certification of employees who are completely off work or on a reduced schedule leave once the originally specified leave period has ended. In cases where the leave period is indefinite, a request for re-certification may be made every 30 days.
An employee who is returning from an intermittent family and medical leave cannot be required to obtain a return-to-work medical certification. However, the University can seek re-certification of the underlying illness or injury once the leave period specified on the medical certification has come and gone or prior to that time if:
- The circumstances have changed (e.g., the employee is absent more
frequently than the certification indicated); or
- The University obtains information casting doubt upon the stated
reasons for the absence.
Is there provision for a second (and possibly a third) medical opinion if the University questions the adequacy of an employee's medical certification?
Although the University is not permitted to request additional information from the employee's health care provider if the employee has submitted a complete certification signed by the health care provider, a health care provider that represents the University may contact the employee's health care provider, with the employee's permission, for the purpose of clarifying and authenticating the medical certification.
Can an employee be required to provide a return-to-work medical certification when leave has been taken due to the employee's serious health condition?
Yes, under the following circumstances:
Certification of medical release to work may be obtained from staff employees who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement if the department has a uniformly applied policy requiring all employees who take medical leaves for similar purposes to obtain medical certification of their ability to perform the essential functions of their position.
Certification of medical release must be obtained from employees who are covered by system-wide collective bargaining agreements where family and medical leave has been negotiated, if the employee has been granted a medical leave for any reason except pregnancy-related disability.
Certification of medical release to work may be required from academic employees in accordance with local procedures.
Failure to provide a medical release to return to work when requested by the University may result in denial of reinstatement until after the employee submits the required medical release.
Is the University required to give written notice to an employee that his or her request for leave has been designated as family and medical leave?
Yes. Departments must provide the employee with notice of eligibility and designation of the leave as qualifying under FMLA/CFRA. The University's initial notice to an employee that a request for leave will be designated as family and medical leave must be given verbally or in writing within two business days of the date the leave was requested. If the notice is verbal, it must be confirmed in writing no later than the following payday (unless the payday is less than one week after the verbal notice, in which case the notice must be given no later than the subsequent payday). The written notice may be given in any form, including the "Leave of Absence Form."
Generally, leaves cannot be retroactively designated as falling under FMLA/CFRA. Any request to retroactively designate time off as FMLA/CFRA leave should be carefully reviewed with your Employee Relations Consultant. If an employee wishes to request that time off be considered as FMLA/CFRA leave, he/she should make the request within 2 days of returning to work.