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Different rules for pre- and post-birth FMLA leave?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. We have a pregnant employee. She needs to take time off for medical appointments and perhaps complications. She then wants to take FMLA leave for birth and bonding. Should we require two separate medical certifications? And should we count all the medical appointments related to pregnancy against her 12 weeks of FMLA leave? — T.A., Kentucky

A. Employees must provide notice to their employers at least 30 days before FMLA leave is to begin “if the need for the leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth....” If the 30-day notice is not possible because of a change in circumstance or medical emergency, then notice must be given “as soon as practicable.” An employee should provide at least oral notice sufficient to make the employer aware that the employee needs the leave and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. (29 C.F.R. 825.302)  

A medical certification is needed for pregnancy disability leave but not for the birth and bonding periods. However, the employee should give you notice, as mentioned above, regarding leave time for the birth and bonding period. It’s still the employer’s responsibility to designate such leave as FMLA leave and to give notice of that designation to the employee.

All leave related to the birth—for prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy—and for a mother’s own serious health condition following the birth can be used as FMLA leave and will all be counted against the 12-week total.

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