Get Certification Before Granting FMLA Leave

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. An employee told her supervisor that she needed surgery. We approved time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with the understanding that she would provide certification after the leave began. We later discovered that this “necessary” procedure was liposuction. Can we revoke approval of medical leave under FMLA and convert sick hours used to vacation hours instead? Can we fire her based on inappropriate use of the FMLA? —T.S., Florida

A. It's a pretty safe bet that time off for liposuction does not qualify under the FMLA. To play it safe, though, make sure that the surgery was not prescribed to treat a serious health condition such as obesity. If the leave doesn't qualify and the employee made intentionally false statements, you should rescind the FMLA designation and issue discipline.

Whether termination is appropriate depends on a number of factors, including the level of discipline issued to other employees for similar misconduct and the employee's disciplinary record.

In the future, require employees to hand over a completed medical certification form before granting FMLA leave.

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