Home » Blog » FMLA Trap for the Unwary-It’s Your Duty to See that the Medical Certification is Returned Timely

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a great benefit for employees who are eligible and comply with the rules of the law.  However, some people have the erroneous impression that they can’t be fired when they are under “doctors care”.  This is absolutely wrong and believing this urban legend can get you fired.  While the FMLA helps an employee out with some beneficial rules, it has a rule called “medical certification” that if ignored by the employee will cause you to lose your FMLA protection for your leave.  Even if the doctor and you notify the employer that you are off with an illness that you and he believe are covered by the FMLA, if the employer sends the doctor a “medical certification” allowed by 25 CFR 825.313 (b), the doctor still must comply with the request.  The doctor must fill out the medical certification and return it to the employer within 15 days.  Now, here is the big catch- It is your duty as the employee to see that the medical certification is filled out properly and returned timely!  Even if it is the doctor’s fault, the mailman’s fault, or the dog ate your medical certification; it is still your fault that it did not get back to the employer on time and you lose your FMLA leave protection thereby letting the employer off the hook and free them up to fire you (there is an exception is it was not “practicable due to extenuating circumstances” to return it within 15 days but this is living dangerously to depend on this exception).  So, be persistent and forceful with the doctor and his staff to get the certification done and then you make sure its either timely mailed or you deliver it yourself (or someone on your behalf).  I know this doesn’t seem fair but sometimes life isn’t fair and we have to accept it and follow the rules.