Q: Can I require all employees to recertify their serious health condition for a chronic condition under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at the beginning of every year?
A: Employers may require employees to provide an updated medical certification under the FMLA. However, the federal regulations outline specific instances in which recertification can be required. Below are some common scenarios which would permit recertification:
- If the previous certification was for a specified period of time and that time has passed, the employer can require an updated medical certification if the employee continues to need leave time under the FMLA.
- If the employee has developed a pattern of exceeding the frequency and/or duration stated on their current medical certification, the employer can request an updated certification to confirm that the timing and/or amount actually being taken continues to be consistent with the leave needed for the serious health condition.
- Employers can request an updated medical certification for an ongoing medical condition as frequently as every 6 months. Some employers have established a practice of requiring recertification for chronic conditions annually. Employers should be cautious to only require an updated medical certification in conjunction with a request for FMLA leave. Rather than requiring all employees to recertify at the beginning of every year, the employer must wait until the employee requests an absence related to FMLA. If the certification was completed longer than 6 months or a year ago (depending on the timeframe the employer is using), they can require the employee to recertify before approving the absence as FMLA.
Regardless of the reason for recertification, employers should strive to have a consistent practice for recertifying medical certifications. For more information on instances where an employer can require recertification, see the FMLA regulation 825.308.